PHARMACY

Federal delay of identity theft rules wins praise from independent Rx lobby

BY Jim Frederick

ALEXANDRIA, Va. The independent pharmacy lobby is hailing a decision by the Federal Trade Commission to freeze temporarily a new rule that would require retail pharmacies and other healthcare providers to step up point-of-sale identity theft protections.

The FTC announced Friday it would delay enforcement of the so-called “Red Flags Rule,” which was originally scheduled to take effect today, until Dec. 31, 2010. The delay follows a move in Congress to narrow the scope of the regulation.

The new regulation is designed to protect consumers from identity theft, but the National Community Pharmacists Association has argued that it is too broadly written and would hamper the operation of retail drug stores with new red tape.

NCPA EVP and CEO Bruce Roberts praised the agency’s decision. “We commend the FTC and its chairman Jon Leibowitz for taking this action,” Roberts said Friday. “This well-intentioned regulation is targeted at creditors and financial institutions, requiring them to have identity theft detection procedures in place.”

Unfortunately, as it stands today, the mandates also would apply to community pharmacies and other small healthcare providers, creating a significant administrative burden for entities that aren’t primarily in the lending business.

“Specifically, community pharmacies that regularly extend credit to customers through patient charge accounts-sometimes known as house accounts-would be covered by the rule,” Roberts continued. “The FTC’s moratorium on enforcement gives Congress additional time to approve an exemption for community pharmacies and others.”

The delay marks a victory for the group, which has been urging Congress to enact a pharmacy exemption. While the House of Representatives approved such a measure, the U.S. Senate has not taken it up. Most recently, Sens. Mark Begich, D-Alaska, and John Thune, R-S.D., introduced S. 3416 to provide a small business exemption. “NCPA will continue working with these and other members of Congress in an effort to exempt community pharmacies from these requirements,” noted the group, which represents more than 22,700 independent pharmacies.

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Study: Military service members with PTSD may be at risk of developing diabetes

BY Allison Cerra

NEW YORK Military service members that experience post-traumatic stress disorder are at risk of developing diabetes, according to a study published in the May 18 edition of Diabetes Care.

PTSD is an anxiety disorder that may develop in those exposed to frightening events. People that suffer from PTSD may experience such issues as exhibiting violent behavior, insomnia or lack of emotion.

In the journal Diabetes Care, lead author Edward Boyko and colleagues examined more than 44,754 service members who did not have diabetes when they initially were enrolled in the Dept. of Defense’s Millennium Cohort Study. Three years later, 376 study participants, reported they had been newly diagnosed with diabetes. The researchers factored out age, gender, body weight, race, and other variables that might increase the risk of diabetes (as well as military service characteristics and other mental health conditions), only PTSD symptoms remained associated with an increased risk of diabetes. The risk of diabetes was more than twofold higher in the presence of PTSD symptoms.

The findings, however, don’t explain why there may be a link between PTSD and diabetes, the researchers said. Boyko and colleagues also noted that their study had several limitations, including self-reported conditions by the participants, rather than medically confirmed ones.

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CVS/pharmacy’s Pack Your Bag program heads to New Hampshire

BY Antoinette Alexander

MANCHESTER, N.H. CVS/pharmacy and the National Council on Aging are bringing the Pack Your Bag medication consultation program to pharmacy patients in Manchester, N.H., which includes a presentation by a pharmacist on improving health through medication compliance and advice on how to save money on medications.

The program, held May 26, encourages seniors to pack a bag with their medications, including prescription drugs, OTC medications and dietary supplements for a review in one-on-one consultations with a local CVS pharmacist. This event is just one of hundreds of similar Pack Your Bag events that are taking place across the country.

According to CVS, 8-out-of-10 Americans have at least one chronic health problem, such as high blood pressure or diabetes. Fifty percent of seniors take an average of eight or more prescriptions regularly. With increased use of medications, both prescription and OTC treatments, comes increased risk of adverse drug interactions and increased costs.

In the more than 5,000 Pack Your Bag consultations since the program’s inception two years ago, CVS pharmacies have found:

  • 7% of seniors were taking expired medications
  • 15% were not taking medications as prescribed
  • 10% were at risk for potential drug interactions
  • 16% had the opportunity to switch to money-saving generics.

“We recognize that many seniors in New Hampshire are struggling to make ends meet and to pay for necessary health care,” stated Nicole Harrington, pharmacy supervisor for CVS/pharmacy. “By speaking with a pharmacist about their entire medication regimen, seniors can identify cost-saving alternatives as well as any potential drug interactions.”

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