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APhA encourages patients to talk to pharmacists about pain, pain drugs

BY Alaric DeArment

WASHINGTON — The American Pharmacists Association is marking Pain Awareness Month by encouraging patients to talk with their pharmacists about pain and pain medications they’re taking.

According to a recent report by the Institute of Medicine, more than 116 million Americans suffer from chronic pain, which costs the country up to $635 billion per year.

The APhA said that numerous medication therapies are available for pain, and as medication experts, pharmacists are able to work with patients, their physicians and other healthcare providers to ensure that patients use the appropriate medications, that they understand how to use them and achieve the best outcomes.


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Global gluten-free product sales to surpass $3 billion by 2015

BY Allison Cerra

NEW YORK — The gluten-free products market continues to grow at a rapid pace, according to a Euromonitor International forecast.

The research firm projected that 2011 gluten-free sales of $1.31 billion in the United States, more than doubling since 2005. Additionally, global sales of gluten-free items are expected to total $2.67 billion for the year, Euromonitor International said.

By 2015, U.S. gluten-free product sales are expected to garner $1.68 billion, with sales reaching $3.38 billion globally.

"Consumers do feel some sort of reward when they eat gluten-free products. They don’t feel bloated. They don’t have belly aches. This usually encourages them to repeat the purchase," Euromonitor International’s head of health and wellness research Ewa Hudson said.

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Survey finds widespread employer ignorance about specialty pharmacy

BY Alaric DeArment

CHICAGO — A "vast majority" of employers don’t know how much they’re spending on specialty drugs through their medical or pharmacy plans, according to a new survey by the Midwest Business Group on Health.

The MBGH surveyed 120 employers from around the country that had between 500 and 25,000 employees, finding that 25% had "little or no" understanding of specialty pharmacy, while 53% had only a moderate understanding of it. Meanwhile, almost 30% didn’t know how much their total specialty claim costs had increased in the past three to five years. The MBGH conducted the survey under guidance from the Institute for Integrated Healthcare principal Randy Vogenberg.

"In addition to the uncertainty and challenges that health reform and the economy are placing on employers, health plans and pharmacy benefit managers, the real driver of drug cost trend growth for employers lies in biologics and specialty pharmacy," MBGH VP Cheryl Larson said. "Our research confirms that there is a broad lack of awareness and specific knowledge about benefit design related to specialty pharmacy that illustrates key gaps that need to be addressed."

The survey also found that 42% of employers used PBMs to manage specialty benefits, with 22% using their health plan and 18% using a combination of both, and 13% used a specialty pharmacy provider. Meanwhile, 76% didn’t offer employees an incentive to ensure proper compliance to medication and adherence to treatment for use of specialty drugs.


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