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MTM benefits best realized through retail pharmacy, Congress leaders say

BY Michael Johnsen

ARLINGTON, Va. – The National Association of Chain Drug Stores in December lauded a letter to Secretary of Health and Human Services Sylvia Burwell from 44 members of the U.S. House of Representatives, urging the participation of retail pharmacists in a new initiative designed to improve the use of medication therapy management in Medicare.
 
“We believe the proposed enhanced MTM model to be a positive step forward in improving the Part D MTM program. However, we also believe that without participation of retail community pharmacists, the testing of enhanced MTM models will fall short of achieving the maximum potential in terms of positive outcomes and impact on beneficiary health,” the House members wrote. “Therefore, we are writing today to encourage [Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services] and [Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation] to take steps to ensure that retail community pharmacists are incorporated into the enhanced MTM models to be tested. MTM provided by retail pharmacists improves patient health, reduces healthcare costs through lower hospitalizations and readmissions, and allows beneficiaries to be more involved in their medication management.
 
“While CMMI did note the importance of pharmacists in its announcement of the enhanced MTM model, it is vital that CMMI continue to recognize the importance of pharmacists as it begins to enter into partnerships with plans. CMMI should work with plans proposing to utilize retail community pharmacies in their enhanced models. Our seniors deserve the most robust and effective MTM program possible, one that includes the utilization the most trained and highly skilled providers of medication management services, local retail community pharmacists.”
 
Signing the letter were 24 Republicans and 20 Democrats, including a total of 11 members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.
 
“NACDS appreciates the engagement of these Congressional leaders who have urged retail pharmacy’s participation in this program,” stated NACDS president and CEO Steven Anderson. “The bipartisan support for this effort is consistent with the strong support for the MTM Empowerment Act in the current and prior Congresses, and that shows the strong interest in leveraging the expertise and accessibility of pharmacists to confront the severe health consequences and the $290 billion in annual costs that are associated with not taking medications as prescribed.”
 
The Congressional letter refers to a September 2015 announcement by CMS and the CMMI of the creation of the Part D Enhanced MTM model. The initiative is an opportunity for stand-alone basic Prescription Drug Plans in selected regions to offer innovative MTM programs, aimed at improving the quality of care while also reducing costs. 
 
For its part, NACDS throughout the fall has been advising member companies about the need to approach plans with proposals for target populations and intervention approaches, and the need to do so promptly given that the timeline for plans to submit applications is Jan. 8, 2016, with the program then launching in January 2017.
 
CMS will evaluate the results of new approaches over the course of five years to help achieve better alignment of PDP sponsor and government financial interests, while also creating incentives for robust investment and innovation in better MTM targeting and interventions.
 
 
 

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Walgreens Flu Index: Flu activity continues to pick up across southern U.S.

BY Michael Johnsen

DEERFIELD, Ill. – Texas and other areas across the South are beginning to heat up with flu incidence, according to last week's Walgreens Flu Index. 
 
The Walgreens Flu Index is a weekly report developed to provide state- and market-specific information, and ranking of those experiencing the highest incidences of influenza across the country. With the ability to generate hyper-local data across most U.S. markets, the Flu Index is an online, interactive resource allowing anyone to search and find information regarding the most current state of influenza in their community.
 
The top 10 markets with flu activity for the week of Dec. 27 were:
 
  1. Harlingen – Weslaco-Brownsville – McAllen, Texas;
  2. Miami – Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.;
  3. Las Vegas;
  4. Oklahoma City;
  5. Tyler – Longview (Lufkin & Nacogdoches), Texas;
  6. Lexington, Ky.;
  7. El Paso, Texas (Las Cruses, N.M.);
  8. Knoxville, Tenn.;
  9. Shreveport, La.; and
  10. Dallas – Ft. Worth, Texas. 
 
The top 10 markets measured by flu activity gains were: 
 
  1. Shreveport, La.;
  2. Columbia-Jefferson City, Mo.;
  3. Lansing, Mich.;
  4. Harlingen – Weslaco – Brownsville – McAllen, Texas;
  5. Albany, Ga.;
  6. Salt Lake City;
  7. Tucson (Sierra Vista), Ariz.;
  8. Traverse City-Cadillac, Mich.;
  9. Las Vegas; and
  10. Peoria-Bloomington, Ill.
 
 

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Kowa Health Care America intros new brace through National Sales Solutions

BY Michael Johnsen

ST. LOUIS – National Sales Solutions last week announced the addition of Kowa Health Care America to their client portfolio. 
 
Kowa Health Care is headquartered in Torrance, Calif. and is part of the Kowa Group out of Nagoya, Japan. Kowa’s Vantelin brand is Japan’s leading joint and muscle brace brand, the companyy reported. NSS will help expand the Vantelin brand in the United States.
 
Vantelin Supports represents a new concept in bracing and elastic muscle supports to U.S. consumers. A proprietary, moisture-wicking fabric and production technology is combined with kinesiology taping theory to produce a lightweight support to help relieve joint and muscle soreness and aid in muscle recovery. Experts estimate approximately 140 million Americans suffer from a joint or connective tissue disorder.
 
“NSS is delighted to work with Kowa Health Care to introduce this revolutionary new product lineup to American retail stores," stated Angie Echele, NSS partner. "Therapeutic taping requires experience, patience and trial and error to apply correctly. Vantelin makes it easy, combining therapeutic taping with proprietary technology in a support that is so unobtrusive that it can be worn invisibly under clothing.”
 
 
 

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