PHARMACY

FDA warns consumers of liver injury risk when taking Multaq

BY Alaric DeArment

SILVER SPRING, Md. — The Food and Drug Administration and drug maker Sanofi-Aventis are warning healthcare professionals and patients about the possibility of severe liver injury in patients taking a Sanofi heart drug.

The FDA said Friday that it had found cases of liver injury, including two cases of liver failure requiring transplants, in patients taking Multaq (dronedarone), a drug used to treat abnormal heart rhythm. Multaq was approved in July 2009 with a Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategy, or REMS, designed to prevent its use by patients with heart failure. Since then, around 147,000 patients have filled prescriptions for the drug at retail pharmacies, according to SDI.

The announcement comes a day after a new FDA requirement for prescription painkillers containing acetaminophen to contain no more than 325 mg of the drug, also due to the risk of liver injury in patients who take more than 4,000 mg of the drug daily.

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PHARMACY

CarePoint Partners acquires home-infusion pharmacy

BY Alaric DeArment

CINCINNATI — Specialty pharmacy and home infusion provider CarePoint Partners has acquired a Houston-based infusion company that it said would make it a leader in the Texas market.

CarePoint announced the acquisition of ivA Lifetec, a home-infusion pharmacy that specializes in infusions for children, as well as nursing. Financial details were not disclosed. CarePoint said Lifetec was its 10th acquisition since December 2007, and that it now provides home infusion and specialty services in seven states.

“Our business model is to closely partner with healthcare professionals in the patient continuum of care involving in-home or alternate-site infusion therapy,” CarePoint CEO Dana Soper said. “What really makes us different is the fact that we go beyond the fundamental drop-ship dispatch services. We employ a collaborative ‘hospital-to-home’ program that optimizes outcomes and patient satisfaction.”

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NP employment growth likely as retail clinics gain popularity

BY Antoinette Alexander

NEW YORK — Convenience and cost savings offered by retail-based health clinics are attractive to urban patients. Given sufficient cost savings, those urban patients are likely to seek care at such facilities, causing possible further growth and employment opportunities for nurse practitioners in these clinics, according to research published in the Journal of the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners.

The research noted that the widening gap between the demand for primary care services and the supply of primary care doctors — further exacerbated by the some 30 million people who currently are uninsured who will gain healthcare coverage due to healthcare reform — stands to benefit the convenient care industry.

"By providing alternative means for access to minor acute care services, retail clinics can not only be a remedy for primary care physician shortage and a viable access point for the uninsured, but also offer convenience for the insured," stated authors Arif Ahmed, assistant professor of Health Administration at the Henry W. Bloch School of Business and Public Administration at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, and Jack Fincham, professor of Pharmacy Practice and Administration at the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Pharmacy.

The results are based on an analysis of 383 metropolitan statistical area residents of Georgia. The respondents predominately were white (71.8%) and female (67.4%), with a mean age of 48.86 years.

The number of clinics undoubtedly has grown since emerging on the scene in 2000, and today there are more than 1,200 clinics. More recently, there’s been an expansion of scope of services provided by many retail-based clinics. Yet, researchers noted that there still is "tremendous opportunity" for further growth.

"Despite the rapid growth, the model of retail clinics is still evolving and provides a tremendous opportunity for growth for nurse practitioners because the profession can play a major role in shaping the future of this industry in the United States," the authors of the study stated. "Although most retail clinics have referral arrangements with physicians or clinics, retail clinics can be made part of the local system of care through appropriate partnerships."

The study reiterated that time and cost savings, the two key attributes of retail clinics, are important factors in patient satisfaction. According to the study, respondents would seek care if the cost was less than $178.64; a cost savings of $30.21 would be required for them to seek care from an NP at a retail clinic rather than a physician at a private office and a cost savings of $83.20 would be required for them to choose to wait one day or more. Furthermore, the willingness to pay for the convenience feature of retail clinics (same-day care) was more than two times larger than the willingness to pay for care from a physician.

"These results bode very well for retail clinics as an alternative delivery point for limited primary care services and the growth of professions like nurse practitioners who typically staff retail clinics," the authors stated. "Expansion of the retail clinic market will not only expand the practice/employment opportunities for nurse practitioners, it will also increase their interaction with the public and likely enhance appreciation and acceptance of nurse practitioners as primary care providers."

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