PHARMACY

House acts to remove barriers to legitimate access of pain meds

BY Michael Johnsen

WASHINGTON – The U.S. House of Representatives on Tuesday passed legislation designed to help curb prescription drug abuse while at the same time protect patients in need of medications. H.R. 471, the Ensuring Patient Access and Effective Drug Enforcement Act of 2015, now moves one step closer to becoming law and helping millions of Americans impacted by prescription drug abuse and addiction and who face challenges accessing much-needed medications.
 
“Florida has been at the epicenter of the debate concerning combating prescription drug abuse while ensuring legitimate patient access to critical pain medications," commented Rep. David Jolly, R-Fla., the floor of the U.S. House today. "Unfortunately, federal agencies have not coordinated their efforts to ensure appropriate access to prescription controlled substances. In Florida, and elsewhere, we are seeing legitimate patients who are getting caught up in the efforts to stop prescription drug abuse. The key to this legislation is collaboration and coordination. This commonsense measure will help us more effectively fight prescription drug abuse while ensuring that Americans are able to get their needed pain medications.” 
 
The bill had been introduced in January by Reps. Tom Marino, R-Pa., Peter Welch, D-Vt., Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., and Judy Chu, D-Calif.
 
“We appreciate the leadership of Reps. Marino, Welch, Blackburn and Chu in bringing this important bill to the full House for a vote,” stated Steven Anderson, president and CEO of the National Association of Chain Drug Stores. “And we also appreciate the support by Rep. Jolly, who is witnessing this problem first-hand in his congressional district, and understands the severe challenges of this overarching problem across Florida.” 
 
“Currently the state of federal law enforcement coordination and communication with private health care stakeholders is woefully inadequate," commented Douglas Hoey, CEO for the National Community Pharmacists Association. "As a result, patients with legitimate medical needs and community pharmacists experience the collateral damage of blunt-force tactics such as arbitrary quotas on supplies of controlled substances and abrupt supply cut-offs. A survey of 1,000 community pharmacists documented how their ability to serve patients is greatly hindered by surprise disruptions to an unpredictable supply chain." 
 
“HDMA is pleased that the House of Representatives has once again passed this bipartisan legislation to help unite the pharmaceutical supply chain and regulators, such as the Drug Enforcement Administration, in their common goal of seeking to reduce prescription drug abuse and diversion," added John Gray, HDMA president and CEO. 
 
In an op-ed in The Hill — a leading publication for members of Congress, policy makers and other Washington influencers — Drug Store News editor Rob Eder recently argued for the enactment of the bill as a holistic solution to tackling both the problem of addiction and the problem of appropriate access to pain medicines.  "Amid the recent saturation of this topic in the media, it is worth emphasizing that pharmacies helped to elevate the concerns of patient advocates in the national debate on prescription pain medications," Eder wrote. "These are tough issues, and people’s lives are affected on all sides. If ever there was an issue that demanded a comprehensive and earnest approach, this is it."
 
“Prescription drug abuse, addiction and patient access to medically-necessary medications are complex issues that are not mutually exclusive," Anderson added. "Addressing one problem can lead to unintended consequences. That’s why the passage of H.R. 471 today is paramount: it looks at the big picture and seeks to bring together all stakeholders – patients, law enforcement, pharmacy, prescribers and others – to find the best solution to prevent abuse and addiction and ensure that patients have access to their medications.” 
 
Specifically, the bill would direct the Department of Health and Human Services to work jointly with the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Office of National Drug Control Policy to assess obstacles to legitimate patient access to controlled substances, and to identify how collaboration between agencies and stakeholders can benefit patients and prevent diversion and abuse of prescription drugs.
 
Industry associations are now focusing on advocating for similar legislation to pass in the Senate. S. 483 was introduced by Sens. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, and Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I.
 
 
 
 
 
 

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PHARMACY

NMQF honors PhRMA chief for increasing diversity in clinical trials

BY Michael Johnsen

 
 
WASHINGTON –  The National Minority Quality Forum on Tuesday honored John Castellani, president of the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, for his demonstrated leadership to increase diversity in clinical trials. On behalf of PhRMA, and in conjunction with NMQF, Castellani spearheaded the “I’m In” campaign to build awareness, start conversations, and increase diversity in clinical trials, especially among African Americans, Asian Americans, and Hispanic populations.
 
“Through his remarkable leadership in ensuring safety and efficacy testing for new drugs include minority Americans who have traditionally been underrepresented in clinical trials, John Castellani is paving the way for the nation to develop a set of comprehensive guidelines that will, for the first time, reflect the diverse population for whom they serve,” said Gary Puckrein, president and CEO of NMQF. 
 
When a potential new medicine is developed, researchers must prove safety and effectiveness through clinical trials before the medicine is approved by regulatory agencies, such as the Food and Drug Administration. Traditionally, individuals volunteer for clinical trials at the behest of their physicians, but physician referrals alone are often insufficient to attract a large and diverse group of volunteers. 
 
“Despite making up 13% of the U.S. population, African Americans only represent about 5% of clinical trial participants, and Hispanics, who comprise 17% of the U.S., account for a mere 1% of participants,” added Puckrein. “A wide variety of clinical trial participants is critical to adequately assessing whether or not a drug is safe and effective on different populations, and John Castellani is the first person to truly work towards turning the tide on this risky practice.”
 
The “I’m In” campaign, conceptualized by John Castellani and co-founded by PhRMA and NMQF in March 2014, was created to bridge this awareness gap and encourage minority Americans to participate in clinical trials.
 
“Only once we include all members of our society in the testing phase of new medicines can we hope to effectively connect patients with the medicines they need, and John Castellani has planted the seed that will get us there,” said Puckrein. 
 
Puckrein will present the award to Castellani at the 2015 Leadership Awards Dinner, the culmination of the NMQF Leadership Summit, which was held from April 20-21 at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel here. Organized by NMQF and the Congressional Black Caucus Health Braintrust, the dinner will begin at 6 p.m. Eastern with host John Brockington, founder of The John Brockington Foundation, and will feature welcome addresses by Rep. Robin Kelly, D-Ill., chair of the Congressional Black Caucus Health Braintrust, and Puckrein. The keynote address will be delivered by Rep. Jim Clyburn, D-S.C.
 

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PHARMACY

Haggen names pharmacy team for rapidly expanding operation

BY Michael Johnsen

 

 

 
BELLINGHAM, Wash. — As West Coast regional grocer Haggen acquires and converts stores in Washington, Oregon, California, Nevada and Arizona during the first half of 2015, its pharmacy business is growing from 17 pharmacies to 106 pharmacies, the company reported Monday. To support this growth, Haggen is expanding its pharmacy management staff from six to 28 to manage the 470 pharmacists and pharmacy technicians who will make up the Haggen Pharmacy team.
 
As Haggen continues its unprecedented 146 store acquisitions across five states, the pharmacies are committed to minimizing any downtime during the intense 40-hour-plus store conversions. The pharmacy conversion team at each store works diligently from the 6 p.m. store closing time to 11 a.m. the next morning to ensure the current pharmacy guests and future Haggen guests have access to their prescription medications while the rest of the store is closed for the conversion. 
 
"We want to make this transition a seamless experience for both our guests and our associates,” stated Guy DiPasqua, corporate SVP, pharmacy of Haggen. “While we’re making a lot of changes behind the scenes to our pharmacy management and point of sale systems, our pharmacies are staffed by the same great pharmacy associates who deliver the same great level of care. We hope our service and care will keep shoppers returning to their new neighborhood pharmacy at Haggen,” he said.
 
“Haggen prides itself on providing genuine and caring service, a commitment that is evident in our associates’ resilience and adaptability through the conversion process.  After 17 hours, we open a freshly painted, new Haggen Pharmacy with the same great team, a completely new Pharmacy Management system, and many new best practices and routines to be executed," DiPasqua added. "Even while the store is undergoing its own makeover, our pharmacists are ready to fill our guests’ prescriptions on day one. It’s been a great, team process.”
 
The Haggen pharmacy business will continue to be led by DiPasqua, who joined Haggen in 2012 after 25 years at Albertsons and six years at Target. DiPasqua will lead two division VPs, Mike Arndorfer, promoted from his director of pharmacy position and Stewart Edington, who joined Haggen in March 2015.
 
Arndorfer will oversee the Pacific Northwest division, which includes 53 pharmacies in Washington and Oregon. Arndorfer brings a great deal of pharmacy experience to Haggen, having served in a number of store- and management-level positions in Community Pharmacy as well as director-level positions with Amber Specialty Pharmacy in Omaha and Harrison Memorial Hospital in Kentucky, prior to joining Haggen as director of pharmacy.
 
Edington will be responsible for the 53 pharmacies in the Pacific Southwest which includes California, Arizona and Nevada. Born in Zimbabwe and raised in South Africa, Edington moved to the United States 13 years ago with his wife and three children to work for Albertsons. Edington served in a variety of roles there ultimately rising to VP pharmacy for Albertsons LLC from June 2011 through the end of 2013, leaving the Company to own and operate Jupiter Compounding in Jupiter, Fla. 
 
Both Arndorfer and Edington are building out their regional teams, with each hiring two regional pharmacy managers. In the Pacific Northwest, Schontel Delaney will oversee the 36 pharmacies located in the state of Washington. She worked for Albertsons Savon Pharmacy for 18 years, starting as a pharmacy technician. She has been a pharmacist since completing pharmacy school in 2007. 
 
Haggen is filling positions for the additional regional pharmacy manager positions, seven pharmacy operations specialist jobs and other support positions within the pharmacy team. 
 
To date, 38 pharmacies have been converted to Haggen Pharmacies. 
 
 
 
 

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