PHARMACY

MinuteClinic offers one-stop shop for back-to-school services

BY Allison Cerra

WOONSOCKET, R.I. MinuteClinic is reminding shoppers that back-to-school physicals and immunizations are available for both children and college students at all of its locations.

MinuteClinic addressed the fact that college students are at risk of being exposed to meningitis, a bacterial infection that progresses rapidly and can have serious consequences. The retail clinic, which is owned by CVS Caremark, offers meningitis vaccinations for $147 andoften  are covered by insurance, less any co-pay or deductible. Other vaccinations and tests often needed by young adults entering college and available at MinuteClinic include Tdap immunizations (Tetnus, Diptheria and Pertussis), flu shots and TB tests (tuberculosis). Immunization requirements vary by state and school and students must be at least 18 years of age to receive vaccines at MinuteClinic locations in Massachusetts.

“This time of year we see a lot of young adults at MinuteClinic who are looking to get their required vaccinations and physicals before heading off to college or beginning pre-season sports practices,” said Andrew Sussman, M.D., MinuteClinic president and SVP/associate chief medical officer at CVS Caremark.  “Our walk-in service, makes it easy for college-bound freshmen to come in and get their shots updated to protect against diseases such as tetanus and to obtain required immunizations they have not received previously; especially meningitis vaccines.”

In addition to vaccines, MinuteClinic offers a range of other services geared to help kids get ready to go back to school. MinuteClinic provides college and sports physicals for $35 through Sept. 19. During the physical, MinuteClinic nurse practitioners and physician assistants measure height and weight, review health and immunization history, perform a simple exam to determine if the student is healthy and fit and provide safety and health education tips. Additionally, MinuteClinic also offers acne consultations to patients, discussing proper skin care (based on their skin type), making recommendations for over-the-counter acne remedies and, if clinically appropriate, prescribe topical antibiotics or retinoids for moderate cases. Exams and counseling for acne care are $69 and most insurance is accepted.

More information and a list of MinuteClinic locations, go to Minuteclinic.com.

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NACDS urges FDA to move carefully in risk management rules for opioids

BY Jim Frederick

ROCKVILLE, Md. Note to the Food and Drug Administration from the chain pharmacy industry: when it comes to beefing up oversight and regulation of some high-risk medications, slow and steady is the best approach.

As the FDA mulls new, broad-based requirements on the dispensing and monitoring of all medications in the opioid class of painkillers, the National Association of Chain Drug Stores is weighing in with a cautious, if qualified, endorsement. That support came today from Kevin N. Nicholson, NACDS VP and pharmacy adviser for government affairs and public policy, who addressed a joint meeting of the FDA’s Anesthetic and Life Support Drugs Advisory and Drug Safety and Risk Management Advisory committees.

The meeting was set up to study the agency’s proposal to require all painkillers in the opioid class of medicines to follow the FDA’s Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategies guidelines. The agency first unveiled new REMS requirements for the makers of some higher-risk specialty medications in 2007. Thus far, the biggest target for those new REMS requirements has been the opioid class of painkillers, given their narcotic properties and the risks they carry for abuse and addiction.

Nicholson told the joint panel that NACDS "supports the measured approach to REMS that the FDA appears to be embracing, as evidenced by the FDA’s proposal for the classwide opioid REMS." However, he added, "The FDA must carefully navigate between mitigating the risks of these medications while also not negatively impacting patient care."

"We are pleased that the proposed REMS for long acting and extended release opioids follows the advice of stakeholders that emphasizes caution and deliberation over speed," said the NACDS executive. "Take time to develop the REMS and allow for stakeholder input to prevent negative consequences."

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Beacon Community program seeks to curb diabetes across country

BY Allison Cerra

WASHINGTON Vice President Joe Biden and the Department of Health and Human Services secretary Kathleen Sebelius have announced a pilot program designed to curb diabetes in 15 selected U.S. cities with the help of health-information technology.

The Beacon Community program will use health IT resources within their community as a foundation for bringing doctors, hospitals, community health programs, federal programs and patients together to design new ways of improving quality and efficiency to benefit patients and taxpayers, the White House said in a release.  Each Beacon Community has elected specific and measurable improvement goals in each of three vital areas for health systems improvement: quality, cost-efficiency, and population health. The goals vary according to the needs and priorities of each community.

Communities will use their Beacon Community awards to provide better control of blood pressure for diabetic and hypertensive patients, improvements in care coordination and chronic disease management, reductions in preventable emergency department visits and re-hospitalizations, reductions in health disparities, better rates of immunization for children and adults, and better adherence to smoking cessation and appropriate cancer screening guidelines, the White House said in a release. The Beacon projects are expected to initially create dozens of new jobs in each community paying an average of $70,000 per year for a total of 1,100 jobs up-front, while accelerating development of a nationwide health IT infrastructure that will eventually employ tens of thousands of Americans.

Cities included in the program are: Tulsa, Okla.; Stoneville, Miss.; Brewer, Maine; Danville, Pa.; Salt Lake City; Indianapolis; Spokane, Wash.; Rochester, Minn.; Providence, R.I.; Junction, Colo.; Concord, N.C.; San Diego; Hilo, Hawaii; and Buffalo, N.Y.

“The most important healthcare innovations are those that are designed and tested by providers and community leaders all across the country. Beacon Communities will offer insight into how health IT can make a real difference in the delivery of health care,” said Secretary Sebelius. “The Beacon Community Program will tap the best ideas across America and demonstrate the enormous benefit health IT will have to improving health and care within our communities.”

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