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CVS Caremark launches Specialty Connect program in all pharmacy locations

BY Antoinette Alexander

WOONSOCKET, R.I. — Looking to reinvent the specialty patient experience, CVS Caremark has announced that its Specialty Connect prescription services program is now available at all CVS/pharmacy locations.

The program leverages CVS Caremark’s retail and specialty pharmacy resources to offer patients greater choice and flexibility in how they access their specialty medications, while providing centralized clinical support.

Specialty medications treat complex conditions, including hepatitis C, multiple sclerosis, psoriasis, oncology and rheumatoid arthritis, and often require special handling, storage and administration. Historically, patients faced three key challenges when filling a new prescription for a specialty medication: submitting the prescription, having easy access to centralized expert clinical and benefits support, and navigating the logistics involved in receiving the drug. For example, as many as one-quarter of patients who tried to fill a specialty prescription at a traditional retail pharmacy faced barriers. These complications often resulted in delayed or abandoned treatment and added to the confusion that patients already face when managing a new or chronic condition.

With Specialty Connect patients have a new option to bring their specialty prescriptions to any CVS/pharmacy location, as a complement to existing specialty pharmacy processes. After initiating their prescriptions, patients receive insurance guidance and clinical support by phone from a team of specialty pharmacy experts, trained in each therapeutic area, who are available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. The program also is designed to make it easy for patients to get their specialty drugs, whether they choose between in-store pickup at any of the 7,600 CVS/pharmacy stores nationwide or receive their medications via mail service delivery.

"Specialty Connect helps specialty patients with these critical therapies by helping to eliminate common challenges they had often faced and by offering them flexibility and choice," stated Alan Lotvin, EVP of specialty pharmacy for CVS Caremark. "The program makes it easier and more convenient for patients to submit and receive their specialty prescriptions either through CVS/pharmacy or by mail. What’s more, it increases medication adherence, improves outcomes and lowers overall health care costs for specialty patients and payors."

According to the company, Specialty Connect has demonstrated high levels of patient satisfaction as well as improved adherence for specialty pharmacy patients. In fact, pilot program results demonstrated a 13-percentage point increase (from 66% to 79%) in patients who were optimally adherent to their medication. Early program results also show that the program is improving upon the patient experience and reducing traditional barriers to getting started on medication, with 97% of patients successfully starting on therapy after only their first interaction at a CVS/pharmacy store. In addition, more than half of patients, many of whom were existing mail service pharmacy customers, chose to pick up their specialty medications at CVS/pharmacy.

CVS Caremark was awarded the 2014 Rx Benefit Innovation Award by the Pharmacy Benefit Management Institute for the Specialty Connect program.

 

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Taro posts 13.2% annual gain to $759.3 million

BY Michael Johnsen

HAWTHORNE, N.Y. — Taro Pharmaceutical Industries posted a net sales increase of 13.2% to $759.3 million for its fiscal year ended March 31. Research and development expenses increased 19.2% to $55.4 million or 7.3% of net sales.

The Company recently received approval from the Food and Drug Administration for an abbreviated new drug application for phenytoin chewable tablets USP, 50 mg. During the quarter, the company filed three aNDAs with the FDA. 

With this, aNDAs representing 27 products await FDA approval, of which one is tentatively approved.

 

 

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Ahold Q1 sales in U.S. relatively flat, company targets online expansion

BY Michael Johnsen

ZAANDAM, the Netherlands — Ahold's U.S. operations posted first-quarter net sales of $8 billion, down 0.3%, the Dutch grocer reported Wednesday. Excluding fuel sales, overall sales were flat relative to the same period last year. Identical sales growth excluding gas was 0.1%, which included the positive impact this year of the post-Easter week falling into the second quarter. 

Peapod achieved double-digit sales growth and opened 47 new pick-up points, bringing the total to 167, Ahold reported. "The market was characterized by a continued focus on value and volumes remained under pressure," stated Dick Boer, Ahold CEO. "Our market share was down slightly, mainly driven by competitive pressures in New England," he said. "We are expanding our online position in the United States and the Netherlands, and we are pleased with the overall sales growth of over 20% on an identical basis."

Over the course of the quarter Ahold rolled out a program focused on improving the company's customer proposition across all divisions. "The program was piloted in the second half of 2013, resulting in encouraging volume uplifts," Boer noted. "To bring better quality, service and value to our customers, the program focuses on improving our fresh offering, enhancing customer experience through more engaged store associates and introducing targeted price reductions. By the end of the first quarter, the program was active in 190 stores and we are accelerating our plans for further rollout, increasing the intensity of the program in New England specifically," he said. "By the end of 2014, we expect the program to be implemented in over 50% of our store base, largely funded by the expected $250 million simplicity cost savings in the United States this year."

Ahold reported underlying operating margin of 3.9%, 0.2% lower than last year, mainly impacted by cost price inflation outpacing retail pricing. Private label penetration increased 50 basis points to 37.0%, approaching the company's target of 40% by 2016. 

 

 

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