PHARMACY

Article: Think ‘outside the pillbox’ to improve medication adherence

BY Allison Cerra

ALEXANDRIA, Va. An article published in the New England Journal of Medicine underscored the importance of medication adherence and its ability to lower costs and improve the lives of patients.

The article, “Thinking Outside the Pillbox – Medication Adherence as a Priority for Health Care Reform,” noted that more than $100 billion is spent each year on avoidable hospitalizations. The statistic is just the tip of the iceberg, the authors wrote, as the New England Healthcare Institute projected in July 2009 that $290 billion in total annual costs, or 13% of all healthcare expenditures, were caused by poor medication adherence.

“Poor adherence to treatment regimens has long been recognized as a substantial roadblock to achieving better outcomes for patients,” said authors David Cutler, professor of economics at Harvard University, and Wendy Everett, president of the NEHI. “We’ve known for some time that improved adherence can lead to improvements in health outcomes and reductions in healthcare spending.”

The article has received support from pharmacy group the National Association of Chain Drug Stores, which said that the article supports its ongoing campaign to raise awareness of pharmacy’s crucial role in medication adherence,  reducing healthcare costs and improving lives.

 

“Pharmacy plays a critical role in helping patients take the right medications and take them correctly,” said NACDS president and CEO Steve Anderson. “As the face of neighborhood healthcare, pharmacists are uniquely qualified to help patients understand the importance of following their medication regimens properly. Working together, pharmacists and patients can improve healthcare for individuals and for the system overall through reduced costs.”

 

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PBGH reports cost-effective diabetes management in Pittsburgh

BY Alaric DeArment

PITTSBURGH Patients diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes in Pittsburgh were more likely than similar patients nationwide to receive A1c, blood glucose, serum cholesterol, ophthalmologic or urine glucose tests than those in other areas, but best-performing regions use the same management services at a higher rate, according to a report released Wednesday by the Pittsburgh Business Group on Health.

 

The report, based on data from 2007 and 2009, also found that the disease was managed in a more cost-effective manner in the Pittsburgh region, compared with other regions around the country. The report is meant to help employers assess whether their diabetes management strategies are working to change employees’ behavior, improve health and contain their healthcare costs.

 

 

“In only our second year of analyzing and comparing this data, we’re already seeing a positive trend in the management of diabetes in the Pittsburgh region,” PBGH executive director M. Christine Whipple said in a statement. “We’re looking forward to analyzing the 2009 data, which will give us three consecutive years of trends and enable us to say definitively what direction diabetes management is taking in the Pittsburgh region.”

 

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Shoppers Drug Mart responds to Ontario’s revised generic pricing rules

BY Allison Cerra

ONTARIO Canadian retail pharmacy chain Shoppers Drug Mart has responded to the Ontario government’s decision to further drug reform measures in the province by reducing generic drug reimbursements for Ontario Drug Benefit Program beneficiaries.

The Ontario Liberal Government announced Wednesday that generic prescription drug prices for patients that benefit from the province’s drug benefit program will be reduced from the current level of 50% of the equivalent brand name price to 25% of the equivalent brand name price. The announcement also indicated that planned reductions in generic prescription drug pricing would also be extended to the private sector over a multi-year period. Shoppers Drug Mart said that such changes will impact its sales and profitability and the government “will further interfere in the commercial relationships between generic manufacturers and pharmacies” and that the government will play an increased role in the regulation of private sector drug benefit programs –– programs, Shoppers said, the government does not fund or pay for.

“These announced reductions in drug pricing and pharmacy reimbursement, on the heels of significant cuts just four years ago, will only serve to further commoditize healthcare and the practice of community pharmacy at a time when Ontarians need it most,” said Jurgen Schreiber, Shoppers Drug Mart president and CEO. “These announced changes reinforce our view that in the long-term, the successful players in retail pharmacy will be those with size, scale and an ability to leverage operating efficiencies. Shoppers Drug Mart, with the largest integrated pharmacy network in the country and the leading market share, will be challenged in the short-term to adjust to the changes announced [Wednesday], but remains well-positioned for the long-term.”

Discussions regarding changes to the Ontario Drug Benefit Program have been underway for more than nine months, Shoppers said.

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