PHARMACY

NCPA responds to President Obama’s State of the Union Address

BY Allison Cerra

ALEXANDRIA, Va. Following President Obama’s State of the Union Address to Congress and a response from Gov. Bob McDonnell, R-Va. — both of which discussed healthcare reform — an organization representing the nation’s independent pharmacies issued its own response, reiterating priorities to strengthen the role of pharmacists in health care.

“While the future and composition of healthcare reform this year is still an open question, both President Barack Obama and Governor Bob McDonnell reiterated in their speeches the need to find solutions that work for the American people. Community pharmacists have been engaged in this reform process from the beginning because, if properly utilized, we have been shown to help improve health outcomes and reduce costs. Whatever is decided by politicians in Washington in the coming days or weeks, community pharmacists remain eager to work constructively with both parties to find legislative remedies that improve health care in this country,” said Bruce Roberts, NCPA EVP and CEO.

NCPA also emphasized concerns it hopes Congress will address in healthcare-reform bills, including:

  • Create a fair reimbursement system for Medicaid generic prescription drug reimbursement;
  • Exempt pharmacists from unnecessary accreditation requirements for the selling of medical supplies to seniors;
  • Bring transparency to certain aspects of how the costly administrators of prescription drug plans, pharmacy benefit managers, operate so that plan sponsors, patients and pharmacists can make more informed decisions; and
  • Continue to strengthen programs like medication therapy management that have already proven their benefits to patients.

“Those are the right prescriptions to ensure pharmacists are contributing to our health system in a robust and sustainable fashion,” Roberts said.

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Pfizer discusses updated pipeline

BY Alaric DeArment

NEW YORK Pfizer’s acquisition of Wyeth appears to be paying off for the world’s largest drug maker.

Pfizer gave an update of its pipeline for the first time since the acquisition Wednesday, showing 133 drug-development programs in stages ranging from phase 1 to registration with regulatory authorities.

“The pipeline of investigational medicines represents the strong future of Pfizer,” president Martin Mackay of PharmaTherapeutics Research and Development, a branch of Pfizer, said in a statement. “Since the closing of the Wyeth transaction late last year, we have made strategic decisions about our R&D resources, global footprint and high-priority projects. Our focus now turns to delivery of these health solutions for patients around the world.”

The pipeline includes 30 compounds for cancer, 11 for inflammatory diseases, 10 for Alzheimer’s disease and eight for pain.

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Health Mart reaches 2,500 stores as it readies national ad campaign

BY Jim Frederick

SAN FRANCISCO Health Mart, the hard-charging independent pharmacy network owned by McKesson Corp., Wednesday celebrated a milestone: The addition of its 2,500th pharmacy. The announcement came roughly four years after the chain — which then numbered just 300 or so stores — unveiled plans to expand into a nationwide franchise pharmacy operation composed of McKesson’s strongest and most innovative pharmacy operators.

By any definition, that goal has been met. Health Mart now operates in all 50 states and, by its corporate parent’s reckoning, comprises the fourth-largest drug store network in the United States. The company has built a broad menu of clinically oriented health and wellness services for its customers, as well as a range of capabilities that give it some of the national branding, marketing and purchasing strengths of a corporate-owned pharmacy chain.

Among those strengths: A common and widely recognized national image at its 2,500 independently owned stores, third-party contracting and reimbursement services, centrally coordinated in-store merchandising programs, and growing clout in purchasing and promotions.

In line with that growth, Health Mart also announced it will launch a major national ad campaign at the end of the month. The campaign will debut with TV spots in 77 markets during the Grammy Awards telecast Jan. 31 on CBS, and will include multiple spots during the Super Bowl on CBS and NBC’s broadcast of the Winter Olympic Games from Vancouver. The campaign will conclude with ads during the Academy Awards telecast March 7 on ABC.

The TV ads will “highlight the personal care and services…such as diabetes counseling and testing” offered by Health Mart stores, according to the company. The campaign will feature 30- and 15-second commercials featuring a new Health Mart Town creative concept.

“Health Mart pharmacies focus on providing great customer service, as recognized by J.D. Power and Associates in 2009,” said Health Mart president Tim Canning. “This new advertising campaign highlights the emotional connection our pharmacists have with their customers, and it showcases that devotion to a national audience, while spotlighting the fact that Health Mart Pharmacies are practically everywhere.”

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