PHARMACY

NACDS’ grassroots advocacy program implemented during congressional work period

BY Allison Cerra

ALEXANDRIA, Va. The National Association of Chain Drug Stores issued an NACDS RxImpact Action Alert to drive home to members of Congress the value of pharmacy in the healthcare debate.

The initiative is designed to communicate with members of Congress who are back in their district and state offices during the current district work period.

NACDS RxImpact was launched in February as a grassroots advocacy resource for NACDS members, but also sought to engage pharmacy students, and other pharmacy advocates who will help “Take a Stand for Better Healthcare.”

This week, NACDS provided NACDS members and pharmacy advocates with talking points, draft letters, contact information and listings of congressional town hall meetings to highlight three main points: the value of pharmacy, medication therapy management in Medicare Part D and urging fair Medicaid payments.

“Pharmacy is the face of neighborhood health care and we have an important role in the ongoing healthcare reform debate,” said NACDS president and CEO Steve Anderson. “NACDS RxImpact provides pharmacy advocates the tools and resources to reach out to their elected officials to communicate the value of pharmacy in keeping healthcare costs down and its impact on the healthcare delivery system.”

Incorporating pharmacy into the healthcare reform debate will help ensure continued access to pharmacy services. By recognizing pharmacy’s role in health care we improve patient care as well as advance pharmacy goals like creating a uniform definition for MTM and securing equitable reimbursement rates for cost-effective prescription drugs and medication.

“Our greatest strength as an industry lies with our community pharmacists,” Anderson said. “Grassroots activism on important issues such as healthcare reform, MTM, and reimbursement rates can help further the debate in Washington, DC. Pharmacists are on the front line of healthcare reform and they are an invaluable resource for policymakers and patients alike.”

NACDS will hold its first NACDS RxIMPACT Day on Capitol Hill on June 16-17, 2009. The two-day program will help foster interaction with lawmakers through meetings and presentations.  To learn more, please visit: http://www.nacds.org/wmspage.cfm?parm1=6245.

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CVS Caremark expands partnership with Google Health

BY Antoinette Alexander

WOONSOCKET, R.I. CVS Caremark has expanded its partnership with Google Health so patients can now securely download their prescription and medication histories to their Google Health Account from CVS.com.

CVS Caremark has been a Google Health partner since it was launched in May 2008. Consumers using CVS Caremark for pharmacy benefit management services can already store, organize and manage their prescription history information online using Google Health. In addition, patients who receive treatment at MinuteClinic can also securely import their visit summaries to their Google Health Accounts.

“By enabling patients to download their prescription information directly into their personal health record, we are helping to close the gap in today’s fragmented health care system and provide a full view of a patient?s health,” stated Helena Foulkes, EVP at CVS Caremark.

To use the tool, customers of CVS/pharmacy must first be signed up for the Prescription Management feature on CVS.com. This feature also allows registered customers to manage their prescriptions online including ordering refills, choosing pickup locations, requesting prescription renewals and receiving alerts on generic alternatives. In order to maintain patient privacy, the consumer making the request for information will need to be authenticated on the CVS.com Web site before any data is shared with Google Health.

“With CVS/pharmacy now integrated on Google Health in addition to our other pharmacy and PBM partners, we estimate there are more than 100 million Americans who can get access to their prescription history online and securely download it to Google Health,” stated Sameer Samat, director of product management, Google Health. “This is good news, because having a current list of all your medications in one place helps you doctor, pharmacist, hospital and other care providers do a better job of taking care of you.”

Patients can sign up for Google Health by visiting www.google.com/health.

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FDA posts, removes briefing documents regarding Seroquel XR

BY Alaric DeArment

WILMINGTON, Del. The Food and Drug Administration posted and then removed briefing documents on its Web site for the Psychopharmacologic Drugs Advisory Committee meeting Wednesday.

The meeting concerns an application that drug maker AstraZeneca submitted for an additional use of the drug Seroquel XR (quetiapine fumarate) as a treatment for major depressive disorder and generalized anxiety disorder.

The company said it understands that some people accessed the documents before their removal, and that it wishes to ensure all investors have access to the information contained in the previously released FDA briefing materials. For that reason, it has posted the documents, as well as AstraZeneca briefing documents, on its own Web site.

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