PHARMACY

Hy-Vee, specialty pharmacy Amber form Hy-Vee Pharmacy Solutions

BY Michael Johnsen

OMAHA, Neb. Retail pharmacy Hy-Vee and specialty pharmacy Amber earlier this week announced the two companies would partner on a joint venture — to be called Hy-Vee Pharmacy Solutions — that will offer specialty pharmacy services through Hy-Vee’s retail stores.

“Hy-Vee Pharmacy Solutions builds a bridge between two different segments of the pharmacy business,” stated Bob Egeland, VP pharmacy operations for Hy-Vee. “We’re bringing together experts from retail pharmacy and specialty pharmacy to offer more convenient, more personalized service for patients with complex healthcare needs.”

Bill Kaplan, Jr., COO of Amber Pharmacy, suggested Hy-Vee Pharmacy Solutions is unique because it provides “true continuity of care” for patients who are accustomed to dealing with different pharmacy providers in different locations.

“Because Hy-Vee and Amber operate on a common platform, Hy-Vee Pharmacy Solutions will be able to handle all of a patient’s pharmacy needs through one point of contact – the Hy-Vee pharmacist,” Kaplan said. “Medication therapy management services can take place in a face-to-face setting, rather than on the phone or through the mail, and patients will have access to diet and nutrition services offered in Hy-Vee stores. It’s a personalized, whole-health approach to specialty pharmacy that represents a major departure from the traditional care model.”

Hy-Vee Pharmacy Solutions will support a wide range of complex, chronic conditions including oncology, blood disorders, Crohn’s disease, growth hormone, hemophilia, hepatitis, multiple sclerosis, psoriasis, rheumatoid arthritis, and other chronic conditions. Because medications for these conditions are injected, infused, high-cost, or otherwise difficult to manage, most retail pharmacies refer patients to one of a few specialty pharmacy providers that have expertise in this area. Hy-Vee Pharmacy Solutions will help patients manage these conditions by assigning a health care team – an enrollment specialist, pharmacist, patient care coordinator and billing coordinator – to develop an individualized plan for the patient’s clinical care, insurance and financial administrative assistance, educational materials and resources, and follow-up care. This comprehensive approach allows patients to obtain all their medications and services from one source, resulting in greater adherence to the prescribed therapy, improved health, and faster recovery.

Specialty pharmacy is a growing sector of the pharmacy business. In 2003, prescriptions in this category made up about 5% of total prescriptions filled; by 2007, that figure had doubled to 10%, and it is expected to double again to 20% by 2011, the companies reported.

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Study: Some African-American diabetics at risk of developing retinal disease

BY Alaric DeArment

NEW YORK African-American diabetics who consume large amounts of calories and sodium risk developing more severe retinal disease than those who don’t, according to a study published in the January issue of Archives of Ophthalmology.

Researchers at the New York University College of Dentistry and the New Jersey Medical School at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey examined 469 African-American patients with Type 1 diabetes who enrolled in the study between 1993 and 1998, administering eye exams, blood tests and a diet questionnaire after a six-year follow-up.

Those with the highest caloric intake at the beginning of the study were more likely to develop retinopathy leading to vision loss by the end of the six-year period, while those with high sodium intake had the highest risk of developing macular edema.

“In African American patients with Type 1 diabetes, high caloric and sodium intakes are significant and independent risk factors for progression to severe forms of diabetic retinopathy,” the authors wrote. “These results suggest that low caloric and sodium intakes in African American individuals with Type 1 diabetes mellitus may have a beneficial effect on the progression of diabetic retinopathy and thus might be part of dietary recommendations for this population.”

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Google.org to expand Google Flu Trends tracking

BY Michael Johnsen

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. Google.org on Tuesday announced on its blog site that it is expanding its Google Flu Trends tracking capabilities from the macro to the micro.

“We’ve been chatting with public health officials about new ways we can help people understand the spread of flu during this unusual time and today we’re excited to bring city level flu estimates to 121 cities in the United States,” the company wrote in its blog.

The city level estimates are “experimental,” the company cautioned, meaning they haven’t been validated against official data. However, the estimates are made in a similar manner to its U.S. national estimates, which have been validated.

In contrast to the unusually early spike of flu activity this October, Google Flu Trends is currently showing a low level of activity in the United States.

Google Flu Trends helps estimate flu trends in real time by tracking the popularity of certain Google search queries.

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