PHARMACY

West Virginia to launch free prescription drug program for residents

BY Alaric DeArment

CHARLESTON, W. Va. More than 10,000 residents of West Virginia will be eligible to receive free prescription drugs under a program announced by Gov. Joe Manchin Thursday.

Starting Sept. 1, about 5,000 people in the Community Access Program of the Partners in Health Network and about the same number of people in the Charleston Area Medical Center’s charity care health program will qualify automatically for the program, dubbed West Virginia Rx.

“The additional participants would increase the size of the West Virginia Rx program by more than 400%,” Manchin said. “That will make it the largest charitable pharmacy program in operation in the country.”

Eligibility requirements for the programs include a family income no greater than 200% of the federal poverty level.

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H.D. Smith elevates sales, purchasing leaders

BY Jim Frederick

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. Pharmacy wholesaler H.D. Smith has promoted two veteran executives in a continuing bid to strengthen its senior management ranks and boost its growth potential.

The latest moves include the promotion of Jeff Greer to VP sales and Bob Dynek Jr. to VP purchasing and trade relations.Greer, who joined the company in 2005 after long service with drug wholesale giant AmerisourceBergen, will lead an effort by H.D. Smith to expand into new service sectors. Dynek, an 11-year company veteran whose previous career included stints with General Drug Co., Foxmeyer Corp. and Louis Zahn Drug Co., will will have primary responsibility for purchasing and managing inventory service levels across all business segments.

“Moving Jeff and Bob into corporate headquarters will take full advantage of growth potential for the company,” said Dale Smith, chairman and CEO. “Together, they bring more than 50 years of expertise in pharmacy distribution and will be influential in helping us realize our goal of becoming the preferred pharmaceutical wholesaler nationwide.”

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Diabetes not sole cause of depression in diabetic patients, study suggests

BY Anna Mcgrath

NEW YORK Increased risk of depression in diabetic patients could be the result of more frequent contacts with the medical system, rather than the disease itself, a new study suggested.

Previous research suggested that diabetic individuals faced a higher risk of depression, yet few studies accounted for the number of primary care visits that patients make, noted Patrick O’Connor of HealthPartners Research Foundation in Bloomington, Minn., and his colleagues.

To investigate, O’Connor and his colleagues analyzed records from a large medical group that treated about 225,000 patients between 1997 and 2003 and found that the likelihood of being newly diagnosed with depression fell as the number of times the patient visited the doctor increased.

Among the group of diabetic patients with few physician visits during the study period were 46% more likely to be newly diagnosed with depression during the course of the study. But for the diabetic patients who had more than 10 physician visits during the study period, the risk of a new depression diagnosis was similar to that of non-diabetic individuals who visited their physicians equally often.

The reason why people — diabetic or not — who visit the doctor less often are more likely to be depressed isn’t clear, the researchers said. “These data might indicate that primary care clinicians are good at recognizing depression after only a few visits,” they wrote. “Other explanations are possible, however; perhaps physician who do not recognize depression early are not likely to diagnose it later.”

This study was published in Annals of Family Medicine, July/August 2009.

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