PHARMACY

Walgreens expands health-and-wellness offerings with Optimal Wellness

BY Allison Cerra

DEERFIELD, Ill. Walgreens has launched an innovative self-care educational program for people with chronic conditions that initially will focus on people with Type 2 diabetes.

The program, Walgreens Optimal Wellness, marks another step the drug store chain has made to expand the role of pharmacists as healthcare service providers. Walgreens officially began enrolling patients Jan. 1 and is initially launching this program at select drug stores in four markets across the United States: Indianapolis; Phoenix; Albuquerque, N.M.; and Oklahoma City.

Optimal Wellness uses a patient-centric approach that works in concert with the patient’s primary care physician to help them more easily understand their disease, Walgreens said. The core of the approach features a program of individual health coaching and diabetes counseling personalized to meet patients’ needs. It is based on the North Carolina Center for Pharmaceutical Care’s highly successful Asheville, N.C. diabetes care project, as well as previous Walgreens diabetes pilot education programs developed by Walgreens and Joslin Diabetes Center, a global leader in diabetes research, education and care, affiliated with Harvard Medical School.

“Walgreens Optimal Wellness utilizes our wide range of healthcare providers and resources to control debilitating and costly chronic care conditions,” said Greg Wasson, Walgreens president and CEO. “Diabetes is one of the most difficult chronic care diseases to manage and the most costly. Through accessible community pharmacies, our program brings patients the tools they need to live healthier and more productive lives.”

Such healthcare providers as community pharmacists and nurse practitioners from Walgreens’ retail clinic chain Take Care Health Systems participate as health coaches for patients. In this role, these professionals will help identify patient challenges to managing their condition and counsel them on overcoming those obstacles, as well as reinforce and support all aspects of physicians’ prescribed treatment plans. Following each interaction with a health coach, the patient’s primary care physician will be notified with details of the meeting so that they will be kept abreast of the information that the patient will receive.

Each of the coaches has been trained through a program developed with the help of Joslin Diabetes Center. The program has been certified by the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education.

“Treating diabetes remains a daunting challenge,” said Lucy Crane, M.D., Walgreens corporate medical director. “While great strides are being made through research and education that have reduced the effects of diabetes complications, nearly 900 people die from complications from this disease every day. Providing patients with their own personal health coach will enable them to develop a step-by-step diabetes plan that is ongoing, convenient and customized to daily life. Directly engaging with patients leads to far better adherence and ultimately better outcomes when treating chronic diseases.”

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New report projects sales of Parkinson’s disease drug will reach $500 million

BY Alaric DeArment

WALTHAM, Mass. A drug made by Boehringer Ingelheim for treating Parkinson’s disease could have sales of up to half a billion dollars, according to a new analysis.

According to a report released Tuesday by market research firm Decision Resources, BI’s extended-release formulation of pramipexole will have peak-year sales of between $250 million and $500 million in major pharmaceutical markets. The drug was launched in Europe in 2009 and is expected to enter the market in the United States this year.

In the beginning, according to the report, launches of generic formulations of the immediate-release version of pramipexole and competition from GlaxoSmithKline’s and SkyePharma’s Requip XL (ropinirole CR) and generic versions of immediate-release Requip will put a damper on sales of pramipexole ER. However, physician familiarity with the drug and preference among physicians and patients for once-daily dosing will cause a “significant” increase in sales.

“Given physician comfort in prescribing pramipexole for Parkinson’s disease and the convenience of once-daily dosing that it would offer, we expect that pramipexole ER will take much of pramipexole IR’s patient share,” Decision Resources analyst Sami Fam said. “In the short term, we expect pramipexole ER will lose some patient share to ropinirole CR given that ropinirole CR was the first of the two agents to launch. But over the long term, physicians’ slight preference for pramipexole over ropinirole should help to boost pramipexole ER’s uptake.”

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Report: Weis Markets acquires local Medicine Shoppe pharmacy

BY Michael Johnsen

SUNBURY, Pa. Weis recently acquired a Medicine Shoppe pharmacy in the Binghamton, N.Y., market, local newscaster News Channel 34 (owned by Newport Television) reported early Tuesday morning.

Weis Markets currently has 120 in-store pharmacies at other locations and is considering more at its Broome County locations, the report noted.

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