CVS’ Pharmacy Advisor aids vertically integrated pharmacy-PBM model
WHAT IT MEANS AND WHY IT’S IMPORTANT The launch of CVS Caremark’s Pharmacy Advisor program is important on several fronts; not only does it further strengthen the company’s foothold on the frontlines of health care and help curb healthcare costs (in this case targeting patients with diabetes), but it also serves as yet another indicator of the importance and benefit of the company’s vertically integrated pharmacy-PBM model.
(THE NEWS: CVS Caremark’s Pharmacy Advisor seeks to improve diabetes care for PBM clients. For the full story, click here)
With 23.6 million children and adults in the United States having diabetes, according to the latest data from the American Diabetes Association, and 1.6 million new cases of diabetes being diagnosed each year in people ages 20 years and older — not to mention a staggering $174 billion in estimated costs each year — there’s no denying that this country’s battle with diabetes has reached a critical point.
With its PBM business and more than 7,000 retail locations, CVS Caremark has been a trailblazer when it comes to leveraging its many points of care to help patients and employers curb costs, and its fight against diabetes is no exception.
As the article explains, the Pharmacy Advisor program integrates the benefits of the PBM and the retail pharmacy to improve pharmacy care. The program applies health-information technology to identify members who are being treated for diabetes and engages them with targeted counseling and support through the channels they choose. Member outreach includes educational information, pharmacist-initiated phone calls, or face-to-face counseling with a pharmacist at a local CVS/pharmacy.
In addition to improvements in medication adherence rates and closing gaps in care, preliminary data also suggested the program can save employers on their healthcare-benefit costs, with an estimated annual savings of nearly $600 per member with diabetes. In general, a client with 50,000 employees — whose population has an average prevalence of diabetes — could save approximately $3.3 million a year, or up to $6 million a year if there is a high prevalence of the disease, the company stated.
This news came just as the company also announced the expansion of its loyalty program to include ExtraCare Advantage for Diabetes, aimed at providing additional benefits for diabetes patients and caregivers, and free A1c tests at most of its MinuteClinic locations through June 12 to help those patients with diabetes to monitor their blood sugar levels.
Walgreens puts hold on its plan to sell genetic test kits in stores
DEERFIELD, Ill. Apparently having second thoughts on a deal that would have put genetic testing kits up for sale in its stores, Walgreens said Thursday it would delay any move to offer the products until questions posed by the Food and Drug Administration about the product are resolved.
Those questions arose following published reports that Pathway Genomics would begin selling its genetic test kits in most Walgreens stores this week. The reports triggered new scrutiny from the FDA, which indicated this week that it has no record of having approved the kits for sale.
The federal agency – which may be adopting a more assertive stance to product reviews and approvals under commissioner Margaret Hamburg – told Reuters news service that it would “take a hard look at any claims made by the company.”
Both Walgreens and Pathway asserted earlier this week that FDA approval is not needed for the sale of test kits in a retail setting. But FDA spokesperson Erica Jefferson told Reuters on Tuesday, “If a company is making claims about a product that hasn’t been reviewed or validated by FDA, we want to make sure the information to consumers is accurate and the test will do what it says it will do.”
In response, Walgreens reversed course. The company said Thursday has shelved, for now, its plan to go ahead with a rapid rollout of the kits.
“In light of the FDA contacting Pathway Genomics about its genetic test kit and anticipated ongoing discussions between the two parties, we’ve elected not to move forward with offering the Pathway product to our customers until we have further clarity on this matter,” said Walgreens spokesman Jim Cohn.
The tests are saliva-based, and are intended to assess via DNA analysis patients’ genetic markers for such potential conditions as diabetes and cancer.
Mayo Clinic Health Manager seeks to organize personal medical information
REDMOND, Wash. Managing a health condition can be difficult enough, but organizing personal medical information can be even more time-consuming, according to a study commissioned by the Mayo Clinic and Microsoft, which operates the online resource HealthVault. The two have developed the Mayo Clinic Health Manager, a HealthVault application that helps people organize health information.
The study was the result of a survey of 1,065 adults conducted by Opinion Research Corp. in April. Nearly one-third of respondents said they spent more time keeping information organized than finding answers to health questions or dealing with chronic conditions.
At the same time, almost half said they regularly left doctor’s offices without asking an important medical question or giving the physician crucial information affecting their health, while 9-in-10 had reported doing so in the past.