PHARMACY

Building new bridges to e-prescribing, SureScripts turns to vendors for advice

BY Jim Frederick

ALEXANDRIA, Va. SureScripts, the pharmacy-sanctioned electronic prescription platform provider, revealed today the formation of a 10-member advisory group charged with spurring the nationwide adoption of e-prescribing.

Composed of technology and electronic communications experts, the Prescriber Vendor Advisory Council will work with SureScripts on programs to boost the use of e-prescribing by U.S. physicians, the company said in a statement. “As part of its mission, the council will provide insight on key variables that are known to impact a physician’s decision to begin e-prescribing and their level of satisfaction once they start,” explained SureScripts spokesman Rob Cronin.

Members of the council are experts in the design and application of information technology used by physicians, according to the company. The group will convene this week, and will focus on such areas as technology design and programs to support the adoption by doctors of e-prescribing software. Together with SureScripts, the new advisory council will explore such topics as “how changes in electronic prescribing technology and making fuller use of pharmacy interoperability can improve the … workflow by professionals in the physician’s office and behind the pharmacy counter,” Cronin noted.

“Even the most compelling of new technologies will invariably face obstacles that slow adoption, and this has never been more true than in health care,” said Rick Ratliff, the company’s chief operating officer. “SureScripts will work with its Prescriber Vendor Advisory Council to identify and address these obstacles.”

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PHARMACY

Democrats vow to re-examine Medicare provisions, Baucus says

BY Allison Cerra

WASHINGTON Cuts in Medicare payments to private health insurers won’t be included in a children’s health bill, leaving the program at a standstill, a Wall Street Journal article reports.

Unless Congress and the White House agree to the funding of the State Children’s Health Insurance Program, which expires at the end of September, approximately five million children will be left uninsured. To mitigate this, Montana Sen. Max Baucus, the chairman of the Senate committee that oversees Medicare, has debated with the idea of cutting payments to Medicare Advantage insurers and increasing taxation on tobacco products to balance the lack of funding.

Baucus also said that the Medicare committee wishes to improve other aspects of the program, including improvements in having health insurers pay retail pharmacies immediately following the dispensing of medications.

Senate Democrats, led by Baucus, have passed a bill by a margin of 68 to 31 to increase funding by $35 billion. The House Democrats’ bill, sponsored by Michigan’s John Dingell, passed 225 to 204 and increases that amount to $50 billion.

President Bush, on the other hand, wishes to increase the budget of the children’s health bill by a comparatively small $5 billion over five years, and treat the federal-state health insurance policy the same way the government treats food and housing—which is, making it available to low-income families only.

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U.S. goverment to sponsor 10 ImClone cancer trials

BY Drew Buono

WASHINGTON The U.S. government will sponsor 10 clinical trials of ImClone Systems’ compound IMC-A12 to treat cancer in the breast, bones, liver, lung, pancreas, and other organs. The compound blocks a receptor on tumor cells that are needed for their development, by acting against a protein called insulin-like growth- factor type 1 receptor, which stops the cells from growing and dividing.

According to Eric Rowinsky, ImClone’s chief medical officer, “Because the insulin-like receptor appears to be active in so many cancers, the co zmpany plans to test IMC-A12 in at least eight types of cancer. The fact that the cancer institute will also conduct 10 trials doubles our capacity right off the bat.”

The company is years away from seeking approval for the drug, but did just begin the second stage of human tests for colon cancer with it.

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