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Walgreens veteran Young to retire; Merten stepping into compliance role

BY Jim Frederick

DEERFIELD, Ill. Walgreens has named 21-year company veteran Laura Merten divisional VP compliance, loss prevention and profit sharing. She replaces Chester Young, who is retiring at the end of January after 41 years with the company.

Merten, 49, also will replace Young as the company’s chief compliance officer while continuing her role as Walgreens’ privacy officer.

Merten joined Walgreens as an attorney in 1988 and was promoted to director of new business development in 2000. She was named the company’s privacy officer in 2002 and promoted to director of Walgreens Health Services’ legal division in 2004. Merten was promoted to divisional VP health law in 2007.

Filling that vacancy is Bryan Schneider, director of healthcare contracting and regulatory law since 2008. Schneider, 42, joined Walgreens in 2000 as a senior attorney in corporate and regulatory law. In 2005, he was promoted to Walgreens Health Services director of government affairs.

Young, 64, joined Walgreens in 1968 as a marketing analyst. After several promotions, he was named general auditor in 1988 and became a divisional VP in 1995. He added the title of chief compliance officer in 1999.

“Chet has had an outstanding career at Walgreens,” said Walgreens president and CEO Greg Wasson. “In particular, he’s created a closer relationship between our operations folks and loss prevention, and he’s recognized as a leader in the loss prevention industry. We wish him all the best in retirement.”

In a separate move, Walgreens said Monday it has hired banking and finance veteran Paul Eddy as divisional VP of pharmacy applications, reporting to chief information officer Tim Theriault. Eddy, 46, “will support the needs of the company’s pharmacy business and initiatives, including its Intercom Plus pharmacy system,” Walgreens reported.

Eddy previously was SVP and director of technology strategy and governance at PNC Financial Services.

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Kerr Drug evolves retail pharmacy with revamped community health center concept

BY DSN STAFF

NEW YORK Pharmacogenomics in Aisle 1?

Not quite, but the continued evolution of Kerr’s Community Healthcare Center store concept certainly offers a glimpse into what role community pharmacy could play in the American healthcare system of the future — and it goes far beyond just MTM. Like the deal CVS Caremark announced last week with Generation Health, pharmacogenomics, the study of how genetics influence drug response, represents the new frontier of community pharmacy.

In fairness, pharmacogenomics has been a part of the specialty pharmacy business for some time; given the cost of many of these drugs, the investment in DNA testing to optimize therapy is a no-brainer. But, projects like Kerr’s pilot with UNC’s Eshelman School of Pharmacy, which will focus on patients taking Plavix, target the long-term savings generated by patients on traditional drug therapies getting the most out of those medications. These types of programs will be instrumental in demonstrating community pharmacy’s value beyond simply dispensing.

It is important to note that all of the stories about innovation in community pharmacy are not generated solely by the likes of CVS Caremark and Walgreens, though clearly they are the leaders. But the story of Kerr and its Community Healthcare Center concept are an important reminder of the innovation and leadership that also continues to come out of Chapel Hill, N.C.

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Study finds hypertension best treated by doctor-pharmacist collaboration

BY DSN STAFF

NEW YORK If anyone still doubted the extraordinary contributions that pharmacists can bring to the nation’s costly and overloaded healthcare system, the Nov. 23 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine should lay their doubts to rest. In a report on a new and innovative approach to treating hypertension, the publication highlighted the impact that a true working collaboration between doctors and pharmacists can have on successful patient outcomes.

The report, lead-authored by Barry Carter of the University of Iowa College of Pharmacy, focused on a study of 402 people treated for high blood pressure at six clinics. Those patients were divided into two groups. Half the patients comprised a control group and were given a traditional treatment regimen for hypertension, where a prescription is written by an attending physician and the pharmacist’s role is simply to fill the script and provide basic initial counseling.

The other group was luckier. Those patients were ushered into a 21st-century style of medical practice and wellness. Their condition was managed and monitored by teams of physicians and pharmacists who were trained to adjust dosage regimens, and even the drugs dispensed, based on the patient’s ongoing condition.

The results were dramatic. After a six-month trial, 30% of patients in the control group were able to get their blood pressure down to recommended levels. More than twice as many of the patients who participated in a doctor-pharmacist team approach — 64% if them, to be exact — achieved the same improvement.

A few forward-looking health plans and insurers, such as Kaiser Permanente and the Department of Veterans Affairs — along with some of the most progressive university-affiliated medical centers, such as the Cleveland Clinic and Duke University — already pursue some collaborative-care programs. Hopefully, the results of the hypertension study will spur more such efforts.

 

Amid the nation’s urgent search for health reform and solutions to the unsustainable rise in chronic healthcare costs, it’s an idea whose time is long overdue.

 

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