PHARMACY

DEA allows controlled drug e-prescribing, handing pharmacy advocates a key victory

BY Jim Frederick

WASHINGTON Capping a decade-long -– and ultimately victorious -– battle by pharmacy and technology interests to modernize all facets of the prescription prescribing and dispensing process, the Drug Enforcement Administration has struck down legal impediments to the electronic prescribing of controlled substances.

In an announcement this afternoon, the DEA issued its interim final rule allowing for the paperless prescribing of controlled substances. Publication of the new rule clears away the last barrier preventing doctors and pharmacists from shifting controlled medicines into information technology and the digital age, and it marks a dramatic victory for e-prescribing advocates.

Chain pharmacy representatives were jubilant. “This is the first time ever that there can be a coordinated e-prescribing system for both controlled and non-controlled prescription medication,” the National Association of Chain Drug Stores crowed in a statement. “The prior inability to utilize e-prescribing for controlled substances frequently was reported as a major barrier to physician adoption of e-prescribing.”

NACDS president and CEO Steve Anderson said the DEA’s decision marks “truly an historic day for the healthcare system, as this rule will allow much-needed health information technology solutions to better serve patients.

“For the first time ever, electronic prescribing of controlled substances will be permitted,” Anderson added. “We thank DEA officials for issuing a workable rule to help make this technological capability a reality for physicians, pharmacies and their patients.”

NACDS and other groups have worked collaboratively over the past decade with DEA, the Department of Health and Human Services, pharmacy partners, intermediaries such as Surescripts, technology vendors, and others to extend paperless prescribing to controlled substances, which have long been restricted under former federal guidelines. In partnership with the National Community Pharmacists Association, the chain pharmacy group created Surescripts in 2001 to foster the nationwide adoption of e-prescribing and provide a network platform for its use. 

More than 97% of the nation’s chain community pharmacies now use pharmacy applications that have been tested and certified through Surescripts, according to NACDS, and the number of prescriptions routed electronically grew from 68 million in 2008 to 191 million in 2009.

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Study: Military service members with PTSD may be at risk of developing diabetes

BY Allison Cerra

NEW YORK Military service members that experience post-traumatic stress disorder are at risk of developing diabetes, according to a study published in the May 18 edition of Diabetes Care.

PTSD is an anxiety disorder that may develop in those exposed to frightening events. People that suffer from PTSD may experience such issues as exhibiting violent behavior, insomnia or lack of emotion.

In the journal Diabetes Care, lead author Edward Boyko and colleagues examined more than 44,754 service members who did not have diabetes when they initially were enrolled in the Dept. of Defense’s Millennium Cohort Study. Three years later, 376 study participants, reported they had been newly diagnosed with diabetes. The researchers factored out age, gender, body weight, race, and other variables that might increase the risk of diabetes (as well as military service characteristics and other mental health conditions), only PTSD symptoms remained associated with an increased risk of diabetes. The risk of diabetes was more than twofold higher in the presence of PTSD symptoms.

The findings, however, don’t explain why there may be a link between PTSD and diabetes, the researchers said. Boyko and colleagues also noted that their study had several limitations, including self-reported conditions by the participants, rather than medically confirmed ones.

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CVS/pharmacy’s Pack Your Bag program heads to New Hampshire

BY Antoinette Alexander

MANCHESTER, N.H. CVS/pharmacy and the National Council on Aging are bringing the Pack Your Bag medication consultation program to pharmacy patients in Manchester, N.H., which includes a presentation by a pharmacist on improving health through medication compliance and advice on how to save money on medications.

The program, held May 26, encourages seniors to pack a bag with their medications, including prescription drugs, OTC medications and dietary supplements for a review in one-on-one consultations with a local CVS pharmacist. This event is just one of hundreds of similar Pack Your Bag events that are taking place across the country.

According to CVS, 8-out-of-10 Americans have at least one chronic health problem, such as high blood pressure or diabetes. Fifty percent of seniors take an average of eight or more prescriptions regularly. With increased use of medications, both prescription and OTC treatments, comes increased risk of adverse drug interactions and increased costs.

In the more than 5,000 Pack Your Bag consultations since the program’s inception two years ago, CVS pharmacies have found:

  • 7% of seniors were taking expired medications
  • 15% were not taking medications as prescribed
  • 10% were at risk for potential drug interactions
  • 16% had the opportunity to switch to money-saving generics.

“We recognize that many seniors in New Hampshire are struggling to make ends meet and to pay for necessary health care,” stated Nicole Harrington, pharmacy supervisor for CVS/pharmacy. “By speaking with a pharmacist about their entire medication regimen, seniors can identify cost-saving alternatives as well as any potential drug interactions.”

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