PHARMACY

APhA, ADA announce new collaboration

BY Alaric DeArment

WASHINGTON — A new partnership aims to educate pharmacists, other healthcare professionals, caregivers and patients about diabetes and about how pharmacists can work with physicians to help patients manage the condition.

The American Pharmacists Association, the APhA Foundation and the American Diabetes Association announced the collaboration Friday, saying it would develop new resources and also promote existing programs, such as the ADA’s Stop Diabetes Movement and the APhA’s Pharmaceutical Care for Patients with Diabetes certification program.

"Pharmacists are the medication experts and the most accessible healthcare provider," APhA EVP and CEO Thomas Menighan said. "According to the CDC, 84% of adults with diabetes are using medications as therapy. There may be several different medications these patients are taking, and this is an excellent opportunity for pharmacists to talk with these patients and ensure that the patients understand the medications and the conditions they are trying to treat."

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PHARMACY

Walgreens adds Pill Reminder, Transfer by Scan features to mobile app

BY Allison Cerra

DEERFIELD, Ill. — Walgreens is bringing its pharmacy to the palms of customers’ hands by introducing new mobile features that aim to improve the management of prescription needs and medication adherence.

The latest mobile features include:

  • Pill Reminder, which allows iPhone mobile app users to track medication schedules and receive alerts through nine different reminder options, which can be set up by scanning a prescription barcode and selecting alert preferences. Users also can add multiple prescriptions, vitamins and other supplements to a single reminder notification; and

  • Transfer by Scan, which enables Walgreens mobile app users on iPhone and Android devices to transfer a prescription from another pharmacy to Walgreens by taking a picture of their prescription bottle and providing their name, date of birth and phone number, then sending to Walgreens with one click.

The new features build on Walgreens’ already-robust mobile app. In October 2011, the drug store chain launched a text messaging refill reminder functionality that allows patients to complete prescription orders. The company also launched Refill by Scan, which enables mobile users to order refills simply by scanning the barcode on a prescription bottle.

“Mobile is an important channel for us and brings great opportunities for technology innovation and providing pharmacy features to millions of our mobile customers,” Walgreens president of e-commerce Sona Chawla said. “We’ve extended the convenience of Walgreens pharmacy through a number of intuitive, easy-to-use tools that can be very effective in helping patients better manage and improve their overall health.”

In related news, Walgreens also said it has added a new and enhanced feature to its app for shutterbugs called QuickPrints, which allows mobile customers to order prints directly from an iPhone or Android device without logging in. Photo pickup is available in as little as an hour at any Walgreens, the company said.

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PHARMACY

FDA mulls over making some prescription drugs available over the counter

BY Alaric DeArment

SILVER SPRING, Md. — The Food and Drug Administration is looking at the possibility of selling certain prescription drugs over the counter under specific circumstances, the agency said.

The FDA will have a meeting on March 22 to collect public opinion regarding what it called a "new paradigm" under which drugs for such conditions as cholesterol and diabetes that normally require prescriptions would be available without them under "conditions of safe use" that would be specific to each drug, such as assisting patients in drug selection, providing followup monitoring or requiring pharmacist intervention to ensure appropriate use.

Another possibility suggested was the use of technologies such as diagnostics used in the pharmacy or other settings. In the meeting notice, published in the Federal Register, the FDA said it was aware of new technologies that allow patients to self-screen for certain diseases. "For example, kiosks or other technological aids in pharmacies or on the Internet could lead consumers through an algorithm for a particular drug product," the notice read. "Such an algorithm could consist of a series of questions that help consumers properly self-diagnose certain medical conditions, or determine whether specific medication warnings contraindicate their use of a drug product."

Pharmacist intervention could include requiring confirmation of a diagnosis or routine monitoring using a diagnostic test such as a blood test for cholesterol levels or liver function that could be available in a pharmacy.

The announcement noted that "eliminating or reducing" the number of routine visits that patients must often make to their physicians, such as checkups for certain drug therapies, would allow those physicians to spend more time with more seriously ill patients, thereby reducing the burden on the healthcare system and reducing healthcare costs.

"In some cases, a visit to a practitioner would be required for the initial prescription, but a certain number of refills could be authorized beyond those that would normally be authorized without a return visit under specialized conditions of safe use," the notice read, mentioning rescue medications such as asthma inhalers or epinephrine for allergic reactions.


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