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What’s your strategy for diabetic patients?

BY Kevin Dore

The Centers for Disease Control recently issued a press release titled, “More than 29 million Americans have diabetes; 1 in 4 doesn’t know.” Diabetes is one of the fastest growing diseases in America and, according to the CDC, more than 29 million people have the disease, a figure that has increased by nearly 12% in less than four years. Additionally, another 86 million people have pre-diabetes, according to the CDC.

Ann Albright, Ph.D., R.D., director of the CDC’s division of diabetes translation, says, “Diabetes is costly both in human and economic terms. It’s urgent that we take swift action to effectively treat and prevent this serious disease.” And, according to the CDC, in 2012, diabetes and its related complications accounted for $245 billion in total medical costs and lost work and wages — a 40% increase from 2007.  

These are a lot of statistics and large numbers to demonstrate a point you likely already know: the diabetic is a critically important patient for pharmacies to serve. Yet, with increased Medicare audits, stringent compliance requirements and reduced reimbursements, is servicing these patients really worth it?

Many believe the answer is yes and encourage pharmacies to proactively develop a strategy for chronic disease patients, especially the critical diabetic population. The challenges of billing Medicare claims, especially Durable Medical Equipment claims — glucose test strips, diabetic shoes and socks — can certainly be a concern. However, pharmacies should take a more holistic view, going beyond the revenue from supplies and prescriptions and consider the broader importance of diabetics.

In a recent white paper entitled, “Medicare Diabetic Supplies: Should Pharmacies Stay in the Game?” Tim Weippert, executive vice president of Thrifty White Pharmacy, said: “For us, it was a pretty easy decision, although sometimes painful due to reduced reimbursement. No one is going to make a lot of money, and that’s all some people thought about. You can’t look at it just at the product level. It would be easy to walk away. There is more to it than that – the patients are important.”

Thrifty White Pharmacy caters to diabetics with convenient healthcare services such as immunizations, medical screenings and health coaching. But it has also framed the discussion around the bigger picture: performance and quality improvement.

Despite the regulatory oversight and reduced reimbursement for supplies, diabetic patients are a critical population for pharmacies. As a trusted healthcare advisor, a local pharmacist has the opportunity to encourage adherence, provide dietary coaching and assist with disease management. While this is first and foremost an important contributor to patient health, effective strategies position a pharmacy well in the support of health plans and employer groups looking for partners to improve patient outcomes. Proactive wellness strategies for the diabetic patient just could open the door wider for pharmacies to demonstrate the positive impact they can have on patient wellness.   


Kevin Dore is a director at Emdeon, a leading provider of healthcare revenue and payment cycle management and clinical information exchange solutions in the US healthcare system. He has more than ten years of experience in healthcare technology. Prior to working in healthcare technology, Kevin worked for several technology companies, including Arthur Andersen and IBM Global Services.

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FDA approves GSK’s Promacta for treatment of SAA

BY Ryan Chavis

BRENTFORD, England — GlaxoSmithKline announced that the Food and Drug Administration approved its supplemental new drug application for Promacta (eltrombopag), a once-daily medication for patients with severe aplastic anaemia who have had an insufficient response to immunosuppressive therapy.

SAA is a blood disorder where bone marrow doesn't produce enough red blook cells, white cells and platelets. The drug helps by helping to induce proliferation and differentiation of bone marrow stem cells to increase production of blood cells, the company stated.

“FDA approval of Promacta addresses a significant treatment need for this very rare but serious blood disorder in those who have failed current treatment options,” said Dr. Paolo Paoletti, president of oncology, GSK. “Through collaboration with the National Institutes of Health, whose studies demonstrate the potential for Promacta to achieve a haematologic response in at least one lineage – red blood cells, platelets, or white blood cells – patients now have a treatment option where one didn’t previously exist.”

Promacta received breakthrough therapy status from the FDA in January and priority review in April.

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Apotex names Dr. Jeremy Desai president and CEO

BY Ryan Chavis

TORONTO — Canadian pharmaceutical company Apotex announced the appointment of Dr. Jeremy Desai to president and CEO.

Dr. Desai received a pharmacy degree in 1981, his PhD in 1985 and an MBA in 1993. He has spent close to 30 years in a number of senior roles within the pharmaceutical industry and has been with Apotex for the last 11 years in numerous roles — including EVP and global head of research and development. Dr. Desai most recently served as COO.

Dr. Desai said his objective is to continue building on the company's "culture of quality" by maintaining a commitment to excellence in producing affordable pharmaceutical products for patients around the world.

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