FDA supports Medicare rule on anemia drugs
WASHINGTON The Food and Drug Administration is agreeing with Medicare on restrictions for government payments for anemia drugs made by Amgen and Johnson & Johnson, according to Bloomberg.
Payment rules set by Medicare, are “generally consistent’’ with prescribing information for use of the drugs in cancer patients, the Food and Drug Administration said in a letter released today by Representatives Pete Stark and Henry Waxman.
Medicare said back in July that they would not pay for the drugs, Epogen, Aranesp, and Procrit used in cancer patients with hemoglobin levels exceeding 10 grams a deciliter. The companies are trying to convince Medicare that the drugs were safe to use up to 13 grams.
U.S. sales of Amgen’s Aranesp fell 19 percent in the second quarter after the FDA warned doctors to dispense the lowest doses possible to minimize heart risks. Sales of Johnson & Johnson’s Procrit fell 15 percent in the third quarter.
Medco sponsors program aimed at avoiding prescription problems
WILLINGBORO, N.J. Medco Health Solutions is launching a new program where 700 trained pharmacists will review prescriptions written by doctors and counsel with patients and talk to doctors to ward off costly, potentially deadly problems, according to The New York Times.
The pharmacists will each be trained for one of seven complex, chronic conditions. The company will set up a resource center for each condition at its mail order pharmacies.
Computers will flag incoming prescriptions with those conditions, such as diabetes and cancer for a pharmacist to review. The pharmacists will look for dosing errors, interactions with other drugs, whether the patient is filling a new prescription or refilling an old one.
The program will have a 24-hour a day call center and will have an advertising campaign featuring famous Olympic gold medal winning athletes with chronics health conditions.
First Retail Clinician Vendor Fair looks at NPs’ needs
WASHINGTON That nurse practitioners are seeking new information that will help them counsel patients, including more NP-focused CME, was a key message Tuesday at the first annual Retail Clinician Vendor Fair cosponsored by Drug Store News, which also publishes Retail Clinician magazine, and the Convenient Care Association.
The event, which is being held here at Hotel Palomar and wraps up Wednesday, marks the second time that Drug Store News has teamed up with CCA. The first cosponsored event, held in Philadelphia in March, was a Retail Health Clinic Summit.
“This is good timing because it is the second time together [with Drug Store News] as a partner, and what is really exciting is that we are celebrating our first anniversary,” said Tine Hansen-Turton, executive director of the CCA. “It is an opportunity to talk about where we have been and also where we are heading next year with Web [Golinkin’s] presidency.”
The CCA is the trade organization formed in October 2006 to shape the future of the convenient care industry.
Tuesday’s educational program featured the unveiling of proprietary research results on the retail clinic industry, presented by Rob Eder, editor-in-chief of Drug Store News and Retail Clinician magazine
According to the findings of Drug Store News’ reader poll, nurse practitioners are information junkies and are eager for new information that will help them counsel patients.
When asked what types of information or resources would help them in their job, the response was overwhelming and very clear: CME. Also high up on the list: disease state information, OTC product updates and new generic drug introductions.
What’s important is that the findings are on target with a key goal of the Vendor Fair—to help industry members better understand how to meet the needs of nurse practitioners working within retail-based clinics. To help achieve this goal, the event provided a forum for suppliers to have one-on-one strategic meetings with the CCA member companies who are running the retail health clinics, as well as to network with these executives.
The study also found that nurse practitioners overwhelmingly are satisfied with the opportunity to deliver health care in this new patient care environment. In fact, 74 percent described themselves as either extremely satisfied or very satisfied with their current jobs.
The nationwide survey was conducted online between August and September, and the results are based on the responses of about 150 nurse practitioners.
Also unveiled at the Vendor Fair was exclusive research sponsored by Johnson & Johnson on patient satisfaction within the retail clinic setting.
As mentioned earlier by Hansen-Turton, the event also was notable as Golinkin, chief executive officer of clinic operator RediClinic, steps in as CCA president.
He succeeds Hal Rosenbluth, chairman of Take Care Health Systems and senior strategy for health care for Walgreens, who served as the CCA’s first president.
In his “Year in Review” presentation to the convenient care industry, Rosenbluth called on the medical community to work together to create “an integrated, turf-less system that calls upon the skills and education of all providers.”
“Let’s be honest. If a nurse practitioner is good enough save the life of America’s finest in Iraq, they certainly can handle pink eye in Peoria,” said Rosenbluth. “The fact is there are simply not enough providers and we need more doctors and nurses of all skill sets and specialties. The system is broken and needs to be fixed and integrated.”
In his address on the “Year Ahead,” Golinkin said the next 12 months will be critical, in part, because health care reform will be in the spotlight of the upcoming presidential campaign. Not to mention the fact that the convenient care industry has faced some resistance from select members of the medical community.
Going forward, Golinkin said it will be important for clinic operators to continue to deliver and document the ability to deliver quality care; consistently communicate the benefits to key constituents; and continue to collaborate with others in the health care system.
“CCA is a work in progress but with Hal’s help we have come along way in a short time,” said Golinkin.
The event also included a panel discussion with several CCA members. Topics covered included legislative process and regulations, technology, staffing and quality assurance.