PHARMACY

More than 100 members of Congress support H.R. 592

BY Antoinette Alexander

WASHINGTON — The Pharmacy and Medically Underserved Areas Enhancement Act, which aims to improve patient access to health care through pharmacists and their patient care services, has gained 104 co-sponsors since its introduction at the end of January, the American Pharmacists Association has announced.

With 56 Republican and 46 Democratic co-sponsors, H.R. 592 has maintained a bipartisan consensus since it was first introduced by U.S. House of Representatives Energy and Commerce Committee Members, Brett Guthrie, R-Ky., and G.K. Butterfield, D-N.C., and House Ways and Means Committee Members, Todd Young, R-Ind., and Ron Kind, D-Wisc. H.R. 592 enables patient access to, and coverage of, Medicare Part B services provided by pharmacists in medically underserved communities.

“At a time when prescription drug use and primary care physician shortages are both on the rise, the Pharmacy and Medically Underserved Areas Enhancement Act is a critical legislative fix that would allow millions of Americans who lack adequate access to health care to gain access to the quality services of pharmacists,” stated Thomas Menighan, APhA EVP and CEO. “We are pleased by the momentum behind this legislation, which acknowledges the role of pharmacists on the health care team and will help improve the health care outcomes for those patients who need it the most.”

If passed, the Pharmacy and Medically Underserved Areas Enhancement Act would enable Medicare patients living in Medically Underserved communities to access services that pharmacists can provide, including medication management, chronic disease management and preventative screenings. Companion legislation in the Senate — S. 314 introduced by Senators Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa; Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio; Robert Casey, D-Pa.; and Mark Kirk, R-Ill. — now has 10 co-sponsors.
 

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PHARMACY

New look, new leadership

BY Michael Johnsen

Ritzman Pharmacies is getting a new look in 2015 after the recent appointment of pharmaceutical industry veteran George Glatcz as COO.

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“We are very excited to launch a new brand and look,” Christina Cyrus, Ritzman spokeswoman, told Drug Store News. “At the same time, we are working very hard to remove operational burdens from our associates so that they can spend as much time as possible serving our patients and communities. We are excited to launch more services and programs that will help our communities with their overall wellness, active living and simplify the prescription services we currently offer.”

Last year, Ritzman introduced immunizations and medication therapy management into its pharmacy service portfolio. The chain also rolled out is med-sync program across its pharmacy base and added automation to its compliance packaging. Ritzman also operates a compliance packaging pharmacy, a home infusion pharmacy and a specialty care service.

“As Ritzman continues to grow and look for new avenues to provide pharmacy services to our customers, George’s … leadership will bring Ritzman to the forefront of community pharmacy,” said Eric Graf, CEO of Ritzman, when Glatcz joined the company this past fall.

Glatcz began his career as a practicing nuclear pharmacist and has experience working in pharmaceutical product development and marketing. Glatcz also has consulted with healthcare marketing services on brand strategy development and product commercialization.

In addition to delivering on that small-town pharmacy promise of personalized service, Ritzman specializes in its own Ritzman brand line of supplements.

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Adding vaccines to services

BY Michael Johnsen

From the beginning, Pharmaca’s format has included expert health advocates — professionals licensed in such fields as nutrition, skin care, homeopathy, naturopathy and herbal studies — who work in conjunction with pharmacists to develop health treatments and regimens unique to each customer and patient. And that personal level of care and expertise extends to the chain’s expanding beauty selection, as well.

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“With our staff of estheticians and expanding number of Natural Beauty Bars, customers can shop for spa-quality beauty brands and enjoy the convenience of in-store beauty services like brow waxing, makeup application [and] makeovers,” Mark Panzer, Pharmaca president and CEO, told Drug Store News.

In the past year, Pharmaca has expanded its portfolio of health-and-beauty services to include immunizations for influenza, pneumonia, shingles and whooping cough on a walk-in basis. To help promote that new offering, members of Pharmaca’s Feel Better Rewards loyalty program this fall received a gift coupon for $5 worth of retail shopping when they get their flu shot at Pharmaca.

That loyalty program is another differentiator that helps distinguish the Pacific Northwest pharmacy chain. “We use our Feel Better Rewards loyalty program to maintain direct contact with our customers, which helps us grow both in brick-and-mortar business and e-commerce,” Panzer said. “Our loyalty program has been growing rapidly over the past two years and continues to be a great benefit in driving loyalty, but most importantly, driving basket-size and customer transactions.”

Pharmaca currently operates 29 stores (two were opened recently) and expects to open two additional new stores this year. “Our newest northern California (Los Altos) location will open in April 2015 and will also follow the non-pharmacy format,” Panzer said. “We’re planning additional fill-ins to existing markets, which includes the Pacific Northwest market, the Bay Area and also the San Diego-Los Angeles market.”

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