PHARMACY

APhA student pharmacists, federal health agencies join forces to expand safe medication outreach effort

BY Jim Frederick

WASHINGTON, Jan. 13 — The student chapter of the nation’s oldest national pharmacists’ organization has teamed up with the federal government to launch a new outreach effort for improving medication safety.

The new collaboration, announced Thursday, brings together the American Pharmacists Association’s Academy of Student Pharmacists, the Pharmacy Services Support Center of the Health Resources and Services Administration’s Office of Pharmacy Affairs, and the Food and Drug Administration’s Office of Special Health Issues. The initiative, called Project CHANCE, which is an acronym for Chapters Helping Advocate for Needy Communities Everywhere, is designed to increase awareness of safe medication practices in underserved communities.

To that end, student pharmacists will work with those federal agencies to increase lower-income Americans’ education and awareness of the pharmacist’s role in the healthcare system, according to the APhA.

Project CHANCE was first rolled out in 2004, two years after the inception of the Pharmacy Services Support Center. It provides student pharmacists “with the opportunity to develop a community outreach project that delivers comprehensive pharmacy services” under a federally funded project, and to raise awareness of safe medication practices in underserved communities, the APhA reported Thursday.

The newest CHANCE outreach campaign builds on the success of that original initiative with support from the PSSC and the FDA, said APhA spokeswoman Michelle Fritts. The project, she stated, has been “expanded to include raising awareness of safe medication practices in underserved communities and promoting interprofessional collaboration among student healthcare professionals.”

APhA is inviting all its student chapters to submit proposals for new Project CHANCE initiatives, with a deadline of Feb. 11. Up to five APhA-ASP chapters will receive a $10,000 award to implement a year-long project, according to Fritts.

Those proposals should focus on one or more of the following objectives, according to the APhA:

  • Raising medication safety awareness in underserved communities;

  • Improving ways to understand, report, manage and communicate risk in ways that protect patients;

  • Developing a collaborative and interdisciplinary team of student healthcare providers;

  • Making a positive impact on the lives of patients;

  • Increasing awareness among pharmacists, student pharmacists and other healthcare providers about federally approved 340B-eligible health provider entities and caring for the medically underserved;

  • Educating student pharmacists on the development and implementation of a year-round patient care program; and

  • Promoting the profession of pharmacy and its role in the community and the healthcare delivery system.

“APhA-ASP is excited to offer this opportunity, which not only allows student pharmacists to make a difference in their local communities by assisting the medically underserved, but [also] to increase communication and build alliances with other student healthcare professionals via a patient-centered model of health care,” said Steven Zona, APhA-ASP national president.

“Through our involvement with the HRSA Patient Safety and Clinical Pharmacy Services collaborative, we have seen the direct impact that can be made when clinical pharmacy services are applied to patient-centered care with a collaborative, team approach,” added Lisa Scholz, VP of APhA’s Pharmacy Services Support Center/ IQ Institute.

“Patients receiving the collaborative team approaches have seen improved health outcomes and decreased medication errors,” Scholz said. “By giving the next generation of healthcare professionals the opportunity to collaborate early in their training with other health professionals, we are helping them gain experience in collaborative, patient-centered care models for their futures in pharmacy.”

Winners will be announced during the APhA-ASP Opening General Session at the APhA2011 Annual Meeting and Exposition on March 26 in Seattle. For more information, including guidelines for Project CHANCE submissions, visit Pharmacist.com/students.

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Novo Nordisk develops Cornerstones4Care as diabetes resource

BY Alaric DeArment

PRINCETON, N.J. — Danish drug maker Novo Nordisk has created an online resource for diabetes patients that educates them about Novo Nordisk drugs and devices, recipes and nutritional values, and allows them to connect with other patients.

The company announced Thursday the launch of Cornerstones4Care, which can be accessed at Cornerstones4Care.com and also allows patients to find out if they qualify for an offer by Novo Nordisk intended to help them save money based on four “cornerstones” of diabetes control: checking blood sugar, eating healthy, physical activity and diabetes medications.

“We wanted to provide diabetes patients with a wide range of information and support in these four key areas of diabetes management to help them achieve their personal goals,” Novo Nordisk VP diabetes marketing Camille Lee said. “Whether you are newly diagnosed or have been living with diabetes for a long time, everyone needs ongoing support to stay engaged and on track with their diabetes care, and Cornerstones4Care was developed to do that.”

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Study: Healthcare companies think REMS in need of major overhaul

BY Alaric DeArment

BOSTON — Various companies in the healthcare industry are uncertain about the benefits of the Food and Drug Administration’s risk evaluation and mitigation strategy program, and most think it needs a major overhaul, according to a study by the Tufts University Center for the Study of Drug Development.

The CSDD called the study the first systematic look at REMS since the FDA introduced the program in 2008. The FDA requires drug companies to create a REMS when the agency decides it is necessary to ensure that a drug’s benefits outweigh its risks.

“A majority of the organizations told us they felt the REMS program needs a major overhaul and said that a REMS is a poor substitute for other improvements needed systemwide in drug education, communication, use monitoring, patient access and delivery of care,” CSDD associate director Christopher-Paul Milne said.

In addition to the three-quarters of respondents — which included drug developers, healthcare providers, insurance companies and others — who said the program needed an overhaul, and the 68% who said REMS programs are a poor substitute for other improvements, 86% said risk and benefit information were not well balanced in REMS communications, while 22% thought REMS was an improvement over the existing risk-management system.

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