PHARMACY

NACDS’ Nicholson testifies before House panel, highlights pharmacy’s commitment to curbing Rx diversion, abuse

BY Antoinette Alexander

ALEXANDRIA, Va. — The National Association of Chain Drug Stores on Thursday testified before the House of Representatives’ Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing and Trade to emphasize retail pharmacy’s commitment to preserving patient safety and high-quality care.

NACDS’ Kevin Nicholson, a registered pharmacist and NACDS’ VP government affairs and pharmacy advisor, testified before the subcommittee during its hearing titled “Prescription Drug Diversion: Combating the Scourge.”

Nicholson emphasized chain pharmacies’ “zero tolerance” for prescription drug diversion.  In his comments he stated, “We have implemented a variety of extensive and robust loss prevention and internal security systems, from our prescription drug distribution centers to point of dispensing to patients.”

He cited examples, including the use of camera surveillance and complex alarm systems, training employees how to handle suspicious prescriptions and conducting background checks and random drug testing for employees.

Nicholson also highlighted chain pharmacies’ participation in state prescription drug monitoring programs.

“We support policies to prevent illegitimate Internet drug sellers from illegally selling prescription drugs to consumers, and we support efforts to provide consumers with means for the proper disposal of unwanted medications in ways authorized by law enforcement,” Nicholson stated before the panel.

As reported by Drug Store News, NACDS earlier in the week endorsed H.R. 4095, “The Online Pharmacy Safety Act,” which it says would take important steps to shut down illegitimate Internet drug sellers.

In his testimony, Nicholson also cited NACDS’ engagement with the Drug Enforcement Administration on diversion trends and to assist in developing strategies to mitigate and reduce problems.

“For the ultimate good of patients who rely on access to controlled substances for legitimate purposes, such as pain management, we urge DEA to take a holistic approach when developing policies to pursue enforcement actions,” Nicholson stated.

NACDS stated that it is highly engaged in efforts to remedy this problem, working with the Food and Drug Administration to develop prescription drug risk management programs, called REMS, to reduce the potential for addiction and abuse of prescription drugs; as well as routinely meeting with the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, on trends and solutions.

Summarizing NACDS’ commitment to finding solutions to combat prescription drug diversion and abuse, Nicholson stated, “We are proud of the comprehensive approach that chain pharmacies have taken, and look forward to continuing our work with federal and state policymakers to implement solutions, including expanding prescription drug monitoring programs, shutting down illegitimate Internet sites, and providing consumers with the ability to safely dispose unwanted prescription drugs.” 

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PHARMACY

PTCB names retired Air Force colonel as CEO, executive director

BY Alaric DeArment

WASHINGTON — The country’s largest organization that certifies pharmacy technicians has a new leader.

The Pharmacy Technician Certification Board announced Thursday the selection of retired Air Force colonel Everett McAllister as its new executive director and CEO, replacing interim executive director William Schimmel, who will return to his role of associate director.

McAllister has worked in various healthcare leadership positions for 27 years, previously serving as deputy director of the pharmaceutical operations directorate for Tricare management activity in the office of the assistant secretary of defense. In this role, he served as the senior Department of Defense military pharmacist and policy adviser.

In other news, the PTCB announced the launch of the CREST Initiative Survey to collect professional feedback on recommended changes to its certification program. Recommendations include the creation of specialty pharmacy technician exams and additional certification requirements, such as requiring a minimum period of practical experience, criminal background checks and completion of an accredited education program. The CREST Initiative began last year with a summit focused on consumer awareness, resources, education, state policy and testing related to pharmacy techs.

"Changes to the PTCB certification program have potential to impact hundreds of thousands of pharmacy technicians nationwide," PTCB director of professional affairs Megan Sheahan said. "Candidate eligibility requirements have remained largely unchanged since the organization’s founding in 1995."


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UnitedHealth Group, Comcast launch pilot to evaluate video-on-demand programming for Diabetes Prevention Program

BY Allison Cerra

PHILADELPHIA — UnitedHealth Group is looking to evaluate the effectiveness of using video-on-demand programming to deliver its Diabetes Prevention Program.

The insurance company has tapped Comcast to find participants for the study, which will be test marketed in Philadelphia, and Knoxville, Tenn. Enrollment began on Feb. 13; the first VOD programming will be available Feb. 27.

The two companies said they will evaluate making the Diabetes Prevention Program — group lifestyle change program helps people who are at high risk for developing Type 2 diabetes — available on the Xfinity On Demand platform in communities across the country if the pilot proves successful at helping participants achieve healthier weights and reduce their risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. The 16-episode Not Me VOD programming will use a reality TV format that follows six adults with prediabetes as they go through the Diabetes Prevention Program. Each VOD episode will feature a health-and-wellness coach leading a class of real participants who are working to reach a healthier weight and reduce their risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. Between each episode, study participants will practice at home the skills they learn from the program. Study participants also will be given tracking assignments each week and opportunities to put what they learn into action.

“We’re excited to partner with Comcast to deliver this program directly into people’s homes,” said Deneen Vojta, SVP for the UnitedHealth Group Center for Health Reform & Modernization. “Taking on the epidemics of obesity, prediabetes and diabetes requires our deep commitment and most creative thinking, and making the Diabetes Prevention Program available in people’s homes is part of an ongoing effort to bring the program to the broadest audiences possible, in the most convenient and cost-effective ways possible.”


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