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Target’s EVP property development to retire

BY Antoinette Alexander

MINNEAPOLIS — Target has announced that John Griffith, EVP property development, will retire on May 31.

Griffith joined Target in 1999 and played an instrumental role in growing Target’s store count from 912 stores in 1999 to more than 1,900 stores today. He also helped develop new store prototypes and formats including PFresh, CityTarget and Target Express, and designed and developed Target’s headquarters buildings worldwide, including India and Canada.

“John had a tremendous influence on Target during his 15 years with the company. The energy and enthusiasm he brought to his role helped Target expand our geographic footprint and create new store formats. Not only did John leave an impact on Target, but his passion for the Twin Cities and dedication to the preservation and enhancement of downtown Minneapolis, will be felt for years to come,” said John Mulligan, Target’s interim president and CEO.

He has agreed to serve as a consultant on Target’s engagement with economic development organizations in the Minneapolis area.

 

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HCSC will begin covering FeNO testing

BY Ryan Chavis

SWEDEN — Aerocrine, a medical technology company with a focus on improving the treatment of patients with inflamed airways, announced that Health Care Services Corp. will begin covering fractional exhaled Nitric Oxide (FeNO) testing.

FeNo testing is used to diagnose and manage asthma. The new policy states FeNO testing may be considered medically necessary for the diagnosis and treatment of asthma. The policy change now allows patients to be reimbursed for claims based on medical necessity.

“FeNO is an important addition to the management of many patients with asthma. It allows the presence of steroid responsive airway inflammation to be identified. FeNO testing helps clinicians prescribe the optimal medications and doses for their asthma patients which can improve patient outcomes,” said Dr. Neal Jain, MD, FAAAAI, FAAP.

Using routine FeNO testing to guide therapy — particularly inhaled corticosteroid therapy, the company said — has been shown to reduce asthma exacerbations by up to 50%.

"HCSC, spent many months reviewing the latest information available and thoroughly challenged the clinical utility and outcomes information. This is a very positive change that we hope will encourage other payers to review their FeNO coverage policies and provide coverage,” said Scott Myers, CEO, Aerocrine AB.  “We believe this change at HCSC will demonstrate to physicians that insurers support FeNO testing to improve clinical decision making, patient and health economic outcomes for asthma management.”

 

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NCPA offers Justice Department suggestions on battling Rx abuse while protecting patients

BY Antoinette Alexander

ALEXANDRIA, Va. — Responding to recent comments by Attorney General Eric Holder that "opiate addiction is an urgent — and growing — public health crisis," the National Community Pharmacists Association wrote to the Attorney General to offer recommendations on effectively combating the scourge of prescription drug abuse without forcing patients with legitimate medical issues to endure chronic pain, NCPA has announced.

"Community pharmacists are on the front lines of health care and are often the last line of defense and a key asset in the prevention of prescription drug abuse," stated NCPA CEO B. Douglas Hoey in a letter to Attorney General Holder, head of the Department of Justice. "Our members have seen firsthand the destruction that drug abuse can do to a community, including the proliferation of violent pharmacy crimes, and therefore are committed to eradicating prescription drug abuse."

NCPA’s letter offered suggestions, including the following, to strike what it believes is the right balance between preventing abuse and preserving patient access to narcotic painkillers:

  • More prescriber education — State medical licensing boards should consider making initial licensures or renewals contingent upon continuing education on pain management and prescriber registration with a state prescription drug monitoring program;
  • Easier verification methods for pharmacy staff to confirm prescriber DEA registration — Currently it can be unclear to pharmacy personnel at the time of processing a prescription whether a lapsed prescriber registration is still valid, or in fact is expired and invalid;
  • Working group or commission on prescription drug abuse — Congressional legislation has been proposed to establish such a body to bring together law enforcement, health care providers, and community advocates;
  • Develop prescription drug monitoring programs Interoperable, robust electronic databases could identify improper prescribing behavior, dispensing trends and individuals at high-risk of abuse; and
  • Practical disposal options for controlled substances — Many community pharmacies voluntary dispose their patients’ unused or expired prescription drugs, but cannot lawfully accept controlled substances.

NCPA also reminded Holder of the widespread problems that community pharmacies currently face when trying to serve patients with legitimate prescriptions and a medical necessity for controlled substances. While supporting practices of the DOJ’s Drug Enforcement Administration to crack down on illegitimate distribution practices, NCPA took issue with DEA’s "sometimes unclear communications to supply chain entities, potentially leading to severe consequences for community pharmacies and their patients, who have become collateral damage in the war on drugs."

A recent survey of 1,000-plus community pharmacists found that some of society’s most vulnerable patients, including seniors and those battling cancer, face a significant struggle to obtain medications prescribed to alleviate crippling pain. Community pharmacists repeatedly complained of having their supplies or shipments of controlled substances abruptly shut off or delayed by their wholesalers, forcing patients to go to other pharmacies in hopes of obtaining their medication. On average, 55 patients per pharmacy were impacted by such shipment delays.

 

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