PHARMACY

AARP/Walgreens Wellness Tour rides again

BY Michael Johnsen

DEERFIELD, Ill. — Beginning in mid-March, the AARP/Walgreens Wellness Tour will embark on another 10-month tour to provide an expected $14 million worth of free health tests.

The national mobile tour will conduct free health-testing events in communities throughout the United States and Puerto Rico. The free tests — which include total cholesterol levels, blood pressure, bone density, glucose levels, waist circumference and body mass index — are valued at $100 per person and may help provide adults with a critical foundation for early disease detection and prevention.

"During previous tours, I’ve seen how these free tests can be a life-saving resource," stated Greg Wasson, Walgreens president and CEO. "This campaign will help a tremendous number of people improve their lives through greater access to health resources, particularly for those most in need."

The AARP/Walgreens Wellness Tour is comprised of nine custom-equipped buses with a dedicated trained staff that travels separate routes canvassing the country. Each bus will spend several days in designated cities providing free services at local events, community centers, Walgreens store locations and other select locations to make health tests more accessible to the community.

Tests are available to adults ages 18 years and older. After the tests are performed, a pharmacist or trained staff member will provide the results and review them with the consumer. Visitors also will have access to free educational information on a variety of health-and-wellness issues available in both English and Spanish. Consumers are encouraged to report their test results to their doctor or healthcare provider so they may discuss any concerns with them.

Consumers can learn when the tour is scheduled to serve their community by calling Walgreens toll-free at (866) 484-8687 or by visiting AARPWalgreens.com/tour.

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PHARMACY

PTCB’s CREST Summit emphasized pharmacy’s role in health care

BY Alaric DeArment

WASHINGTON — By 2015, “pharmacists will be the healthcare professionals responsible for providing patient care that ensures optimal medication therapy outcomes.” That was the consensus reached in the Joint Commission of Pharmacy Practitioners’ vision statement at the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board’s Consumer Awareness, Resources, Education, State Policy and Testing Summit last month.

The CREST Summit brought together pharmacists, pharmacy technicians, employers, pharmacy associations and state boards of pharmacy. The PTCB has certified pharmacy technicians since its founding in 1995.

“Pharmacy technicians play an integral role in supporting pharmacy practitioners in virtually all practice settings,” PTCB executive director and CEO Melissa Murer Corrigan said. “Feedback from the summit, survey and social media show that significant steps are being taken to support innovation in the roles and responsibilities of pharmacy technicians through education, training and PTCB certification.”

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NCPA responds to congressional members’ concerns over short-term cycle dispensing rule

BY Allison Cerra

ALEXANDRIA, Va. — Ten members of Congress expressed concerns over a provision in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act that is said to reduce Medicare program costs, according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

In a letter sent to CMS administrator Donald Berwick on Friday, the congressional members — Reps. Peter Roskam, R-Ill.; Aaron Schock, R-Ill.; John Barrow, D-Ga.; Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill.; Lloyd Doggett, D-Texas; Paul Gosar, R-Ariz.; Shelley Capito, R-W.Va.; Geoff Davis, R-Ky.; Sam Graves, R-Mo.; and Nan Hayworth, R-N.Y. — said they were unsure what was motivating CMS’ plan to move ahead with the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking provision, which would limit short-cycle dispensing of brand-name drugs for long-term care facilities. The representatives addressed the lack of evidence that could support the idea that shorter dispensing cycles would save money. In the letter, the representatives urged CMS to delay the implementation.

In response, the National Community Pharmacists Association’s EVP and CEO, Kathleen Jaeger, said she appreciated the representatives speaking up on behalf of pharmacists and patients in long-term care facilities. “While we all share the goal of eliminating waste in programs like Medicare Part D, there is scant evidence substantiating that a move to shorter dispensing cycles would actually reduce costs," Jaeger said. “More importantly, the requirement is very burdensome for pharmacies, which may have to invest significant resources in order to comply with the regulation."

"Before CMS moves forward with implementation, we hope it will conduct a thorough, fact-finding study to determine what is the wisest course of action," Jaeger continued. "Plowing ahead without that data could have unintended consequences, such as higher costs to Medicare or fewer pharmacies providing LTC services. Those are outcomes nobody should want."

The NCPA operates a division that focuses on LTCs, Jaeger pointed out, and said that, “[our] association’s staff and membership will continue working with like-minded organizations to engage Congress, CMS and others on this issue for a positive resolution that benefits patients, payers and pharmacists.”

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