6th Drug Store News Diabetes Roundtable
Following is an excerpt from Drug Store News’ annual Diabetes Roundtable. For the complete text, see Drug Store News, March 6, 2009.
DAVE WENDLAND, HAMACHER: Dion, from a pharmaceutical manufacturer’s standpoint, we’re still talking about this whole idea of juvenile diabetes, and really … reaching out to everybody within the family. What is Takeda doing, and how is your product positioned in that place?
DION REIMER: Well, we specifically focus on type 2 diabetes in the adult population; but I think in terms of — you talk about the family — we’re really aggressive in trying to become more engaged with the retail pharmacist. Because we understand and have come to recognize that the pharmacist is really the first line of defense for a lot of these people in terms of not only medication being dispensed, but also the education that’s being provided.
One of the areas that we’ve been very aggressive in the last couple of years has been compliance and persistency programs, because, once again, people who are on these chronic medications — as amazing as it sounds — they don’t stay on the medications that they need. And with diabetes, specifically type 2, they can go a long time without taking their medication and not feel the effects. So we’ve been very successful; we’re really trying to retool the thinking inside Takeda, to be quite honest, about the value of engaging the retail pharmacy and supporting those activities. And it’s a changing marketplace. We think it’s going to become more and more to critical be in that arena.
WENDLAND: And I think the fact that you do focus primarily on type 2 adult diabetes is still reflective that there will be changes within that household — that perhaps the youth who are living there, the children who are living in that environment, all have to understand the disease and understand the changes that are going to have to happen from the refrigerator to the dinner table.
REIMER: Well, and from a personal point of view, both of my parents are advanced age, and I find myself in that role of having to monitor their medications [and] work with the retail pharmacist in delivering their care. And as much as they are my parents and I’m their son, it’s still a battle.
WENDLAND: Dion you mentioned your company’s interest in compliance and adherence. Tell us about some of the efforts you’ve undertaken to help people stay on their prescription regimen.
REIMER: Well, we utilize a couple of the national providers as far as compliance and persistence and programs, and they have arrangements with all the national retail houses, pharmacies both large and small. We’ve seen a tremendous uptake in terms of how many people stay on their medication longer. And once again, that’s a benefit for all parties concerned because, guess what: If patients are on their medication, they have better health outcomes; the pharmacist is involved, they have a revenue stream; and we as a provider of manufactured goods, we see a benefit in that, as well.
I think the other thing is, in terms of compliance, I think the awareness aspect that [we] talked about varies. We’re seeing kind of a shift in the marketplace with health savings accounts and the fact that consumers need to be made more aware of what’s out there. Because with pharmaceuticals, it’s very convoluted that the people who are taking the medication in some cases don’t have a lot to say about what is being provided to them. And in some cases, they’re really not aware of the price point associated with it. But I think once they start realizing the value benefit of all these products in terms of their health outcome, they’ll make that decision an informed one.
WENDLAND: So, Dion, from a supplier standpoint … you’re going to go back to your organization, and they’re going to say, “Why in the world did you do the Diabetes Roundtable?” What is the one takeaway that you’re going to take back to the organization and say, “You know what? The light bulb went off: This is how our company can make a difference.” What is that one thing?
REIMER: I would say that I think that the ability to fulfill the unmet needs of the diabetic population is right here within this room in terms of the retail pharmacist. And we heard about the passion, we heard about all the services and everything else, but until we actually activate that patient, whether they be in the front of the store or coming up to the pharmacy counter, we’re missing an opportunity to really better the overall care for everybody in the United States. And I think that’s the one thing that as a company, at Takeda, we need to be much more aggressive in giving those people behind the counter the tools they need to educate the consumers coming through their doors. I think that’s going to be the ultimate difference. Once these people start making informed decisions about their own health, they’re going to make the right choices, and that’s going to ensure greater success.
Kroger to serve as exclusive supermarket sponsor of Fiesta Atlanta ’09
ATLANTA Kroger will serve as the exclusive supermarket sponsor of Fiesta Atlanta ’09, an outdoor Cinco de Mayo festival celebrating Latino culture, music and food.
Fiesta Atlanta ’09 takes place on Sunday, May 3 at Centennial Olympic Park in downtown Atlanta. For Kroger, the partnership represents the company’s commitment to the Hispanic community.
“We are very excited and looking forward to Fiesta Atlanta,” said Glynn Jenkins, director of communications and public relations for Kroger’s Atlanta Division. “Kroger has always made exceptional efforts to serve the Hispanic community and joining this celebration is another commitment to our Hispanic customers.”
Atlanta’s largest Hispanic outdoor family festival, Fiesta Atlanta attracted over 40,000 attendees last year. This year’s event will once again feature authentic food from many Latin-American countries, arts and crafts, sponsor displays with many free product samples and continuous live musical performances by national and local recording artists.
AARP cites big jump in Rx prices
NEW YORK A report by AARP indicated that prices for branded drugs have increased at a rate outpacing the rate of inflation by more than six percentage points.
The report found that manufacturers’ prices for branded drugs increased by 9% last year, compared with the general inflation rate of 3.8%. Meanwhile, prices of generic drugs decreased, on average, by 10.6%.
Generic drugs have already grown significantly over the years, accounting for 69% of all prescriptions dispensed in the United States, but 16% of money spent on prescriptions, according to IMS Health. In 2007, according to the National Association of Chain Drug Stores, the average price of a generic prescription drug was $34.34, compared to $119.51 for a branded drug.
Price increases for branded drugs significantly higher than the overall rate of inflation, mixed with the recession, are likely to drive more consumers to generics. According to AARP, nearly a quarter of all older Americans skip medication doses because of the cost, while other studies have shown that many Americans facing economic hardship don’t have prescriptions filled at all.
At the same time, many branded pharmaceutical drugs – not to mention biologics – don’t yet have a generic version. This could create difficulties for elderly and other patients who may be able switch to medications that are cheaper, but different from what they take, or who take biologic drugs or newer drugs that have no equivalent on the market.
The Generic Pharmaceutical Association said the report indicated that generic medicines are “the right choice for better health.”
“During these difficult economic times, it is truly disturbing to hear reports that our nation’s seniors cannot afford their prescription drug costs,” GPhA president and CEO Kathleen Jaeger said in a statement responding to the report. “No one should be forced to choose between putting food on their table and paying for needed medicines.”
Jaeger also said the report illustrated the need for a regulatory pathway for biosimilars.
“It’s time to do right by our seniors and all Americans struggling with healthcare costs by approving legislation that brings safe, effective and affordable biogeneric medicines to patients sooner rather than later,” Jaeger said. “GPhA also strongly believes that increasing funding for FDA would ensure the more timely approval of generic medicines, increasing the opportunity for consumers to save immediately.”