PHARMACY

House passes bill to prevent increase in military co-pays at retail pharmacies

BY Jim Frederick

ALEXANDRIA, Va. Moving on behalf of community pharmacy advocates, the House of Representatives has passed a military spending bill for 2011 that effectively preserves the right of military members and their families to fill their prescriptions at a retail, off-base pharmacy without penalty.

The provision is included in the National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal year 2011. The bill, also known as H.R. 5136, protects some 9 million beneficiaries enrolled in the Tricare military health program, by temporarily prohibiting any co-payment increase if a patient purchases his or her prescription from a retail pharmacy.

The bill now heads to the Senate for consideration. But its passage by the House drew immediate praise from the chain pharmacy industry.

“House Armed Services Committee Chairman Ike Shelton, D-Mo., and Ranking Member Howard ‘Buck’ McKeon, R-Calif., deserve a lot of credit for seeing to it that this provision remained part of the bill,” said Steve Anderson, president and CEO of the National Association of Chain Drug Stores. “Passed just in time for honoring our veterans on Memorial Day, this bill will protect Tricare patients’ choice and maintains retail pharmacy as an option for Tricare beneficiaries.”

NACDS and other pharmacy groups have fought repeatedly for a freeze on Tricare co-payment increases. NACDS has partnered with the Department of Defense (DoD) to obtain millions in Tricare cost-savings and pricing discounts for retail pharmacy prescription medications, and secured an interim final rule authorizing retail pharmacies to administer H1N1, seasonal influenza and pneumococcal vaccines to Tricare beneficiaries.

“NACDS looks forward to working with DoD to better integrate retail pharmacy in the Tricare network and enhance pharmacy’s role in increasing medication adherence, which improves patient health and reduces costs,” said Anderson.

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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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