PHARMACY

Alliance Health Networks migrates Diabetic Connect to its new social networking platform

BY Allison Cerra

SALT LAKE CITY Alliance Health Networks has moved Diabetic Connect onto its new advanced social networking platform where Alliance Health’s newer properties, including Sleep Connect, Health Exchange, Arthritis Connect and several other health-focused social networking sites, now operate.

DiabeticConnect.com is an online social network that connects and empowers people living with diabetes. The site boasts more than 150,000 registered members hailing from each U.S. state and more than 30 different countries. According to Compete, a Web analytics company, Diabetic Connect’s monthly traffic now consistently exceeds 1 million unique visitors.

The enhanced and updated version of DiabeticConnect.com includes doctor-approved reference content and interactive tools powered by Healthwise, a provider of quality health content for consumers. Alliance Health’s new social media platform also offers Facebook-like advanced activity feeds of friends, experts and favorites contained in a user’s profile. Also included are advanced social networking features like in-line commenting, rating and editing.

“DiabeticConnect.com is the largest social network devoted to an ever-growing important national and global health condition –– diabetes,” said Alliance Health Networks CEO Stead Burwell. “With the advanced social networking tools our new platform now offers, we provide a unique destination that connects diverse patients, caregivers and interested providers all focused on diabetes. Community members consult with, support and learn from one another on DiabeticConnect.com.”

Improved navigation, search functionality, a health symptom checker and more user control options are also included in the site upgrade launched in March. An interactive diagram of new features and functionality is included online at www.DiabeticConnect.com/whats-new.

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CDMA reports positive turnout at 84th Education and Trade Expo

BY Allison Cerra

NOVI, Mich. A trade association owned by more than 125 regional drug chains, independent pharmacies, regional drug wholesalers and specialty distributors, celebrated last month a successful turnout at its annual Education and Trade Expo.

The Chain Drug Marketing Association said its 84th Education and Trade Expo, held at the Hilton Chicago from March 16 to 18, saw both an increase of buyers and exhibitors from the previous year. The expo allows buyers and suppliers to form new relationships, particularly difficult-to-reach regional chains and independent pharmacies, CDMA said. Additionally, educational sessions, such as “Profit through Direct Import” (which explained the benefits of bringing CDMA’s Direct Import Program into their store) and “Creating the Best Christmas Ad Ever” provided insight to those looking to enhance their businesses.

CDMA’s store brand program, Quality Choice, celebrated 15 years of providing high quality, profitable products to members at the Quality Choice reception and dinner. First Boston Pharma’s Lee Rudibaugh, received the award for Quality Choice Supplier of the Year, on behalf of Mike Barna. At the Quality Choice Forum, buyers met one-on-one with Quality Choice suppliers to learn of new product launches and trends in store brands.

Another popular aspect of the show was the newly expanded Table Top Showcase that provided buyers with more seasonal buys and hot deals from the CDMA warehouse. This program also presented CDMA suppliers with another venue in which to display their items for buyers.

“The show has allowed us to take the product to the next level to the independents. It has also enabled us to meet the distributors and retailers that we would not have been able to meet had we not been with CDMA. It has allowed us to increase the depth and breadth of our line,” said Bill Hart with EcoSmart Technologies, Inc., a new CDMA associate member.

In related news, CDMA’s board of directors appointed two new members: John Rocchi of Klingensmith Drug Stores of Pa., and Bob Petryszak of Drug Emporium of W. Va. Additionally, CDMA said Bob Messick of Fruth Pharmacy was elected to the executive committee as the 2nd vice chairman. The new board of directors said it’s looking forward to another successful year of new ideas and improvements for CDMA.

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CVS Caremark research highlights methods for improving medication adherence

BY Antoinette Alexander

WOONSOCKET, R.I. Research from CVS Caremark demonstrated the positive impact of various tools available to pharmacy benefit management companies, including automated telephonic messaging, fax alerts to physicians about gaps in care and strategic co-pay waivers for generic medications.

The data, which came from three different studies, was presented at the 22nd Annual Meeting of the Academy of Managed Care Pharmacy.

"Poor medication adherence is frequently at the root of preventable hospitalizations and patient illness and the resulting costs to the U.S. healthcare system have been estimated to be a staggering $300 billion annually," stated Troyen Brennen, M.D., EVP and chief medical officer of CVS Caremark. "These studies show that pharmacy benefit managers can employ a variety of tools to encourage medication adherence and close key therapy gaps, resulting in both improved health outcomes as well as opportunities for cost savings for both the plan sponsor and the member."

One of the CVS Caremark studies examined the effectiveness of interactive voice response (IVR) programs in improving persistency to maintenance medication therapies dispensed via mail-service pharmacy. From October 2008 to February 2009, more than 94,000 commercially insured mail pharmacy users received various combinations of supportive adherence messages delivered by IVR. Results showed that among members who answered the telephonic IVR, the odds of refilling the prescription were up to 70.6% higher than controls. In addition, among members receiving early refill reminders the average first fill persistency rate (FFPR) at mail was 3.5% higher than controls, while the average FFPR was 1.4% higher than controls for members receiving refill reminders after their drug supply was exhausted.

A second study examined the effectiveness of faxed alerts to physicians in resolving potential gaps in therapy in three areas: 1) adding an osteoporosis-preventative agent for women on long-term glucocorticosteroids; 2) adding an ACE inhibitor or ARB for adults with hypertension and diabetes; and 3) adding a lipid-lowering agent for individuals ages 30 years or older with diabetes. During the study period, a total of 337 employers and health plans — representing more than five million members — participated in a program that delivered fax alerts to providers when members’ pharmacy claims indicated the absence of a recommended therapy in one of the areas outlined above.

In this study, interventions were conducted between Jan. 1 and March 30, 2009, with gap closure rates measured through Sept. 30, 2009. Results showed that gap closure rates among members whose physician received a fax alert, were significantly higher than controls. For those members whose claims triggered an osteoporosis alert, gap closure rates were 8.4 percentage points higher than controls, those who triggered an anti-hypertensive therapy alert had gap closure rates 5.5 percentage points higher and those who triggered a cholesterol management alert had gap closure rates 4.5 percentage points higher.

A third study examined the effectiveness of generic co-pay waiver programs designed to provide incentives for members using brand medications to switch to generics. Members using targeted brands were given a six-month period during which they could change to a recommended generic medication and receive generic co-pay waivers at mail. Members who converted to a generic early in the six-month period received two generic co-pay waivers (i.e., on medication for six months). Members who delayed their generic conversion until the end of the six-month period received one generic co-pay waiver (i.e., on medication for three months). The study focused on members who continued therapy with the generic after using the co-pay waiver(s) and found an overall higher sustained generic dispensing rate (GDR) for members who received two co-pay waivers (GDR of 88.2%) compared with members who received one co-pay waiver (GDR of 71.7%).

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