PHARMACY

NCPA CEO issues statement on Express Scripts-Medco merger at pharmacy coalition press conference

BY Allison Cerra

WASHINGTON — At a press conference organized by the Preserve Community Pharmacy Access NOW! coalition at the Capitol on Thursday morning, the National Community Pharmacists Association’s CEO Douglas Hoey issued a statement regarding the proposed merger of pharmacy benefit managers Express Scripts and Medco Health Solutions, saying the deal could mean "more wasteful mail-order spending and higher price spikes for specialty drugs."

"Quite simply, the windfall profits of major PBMs have soared and everyone else has been paying the price," Hoey said. "The marriage of Express Scripts and Medco would give one corporation control of nearly 60% of the mail-order pharmacy market and 52% of the specialty pharmacy market. It could mean more wasteful mail-order spending and higher price spikes for specialty drugs. The already limited pharmacy management options for the largest health plans, including the federal government, will grow further captive to the major PBMs.

"Currently 42 out of the Fortune 50 largest U.S. employers use the ‘Big Three’ — Express Scripts, Medco or CVS Caremark. It is safe to say that if the merger is green-lighted, the remaining two companies would face little, if any, resistance to raising costs, reducing choice and otherwise putting their own interests ahead of those of employers, patients and others," Hoey said.

Hoey also added that the "unchecked, virtually unregulated growth" among PBMs should prompt Congress to pass legislation — particularly, the Pharmacy Competition and Consumer Choice Act of 2011 (S. 1058/ H.R. 1971), and the Preserving Our Hometown Independent Pharmacies Act (H.R. 1946) — to boost patients’ choice of pharmacy.

On hand at the PCPA NOW! press conference were Reps. Joe Courtney, D-Conn.; Thomas Marino, R-Pa.; and Eva Clayton (retired), who also serves as PCPA NOW! chairwoman; Dennis Archer, PCPAN chief legal counsel; and Mike Brandt, owner of Globe Drug and Medical Equipment.


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BMS to present abstracts from Orencia studies at American College of Rheumatology meeting

BY Alaric DeArment

NEW YORK — Drug maker Bristol-Myers Squibb will present 20 study abstracts at the American College of Rheumatology Annual Scientific Meeting in Chicago, the company said Thursday.

Bristol said that of those, 18 contain new data from studies of Orencia (abatacept) in patients with rheumatoid arthritis or lupus nephritis.

"The results presented at the American College of Rheumatology meeting reinforce Bristol-Myers Squibb’s commitment to expanding our understanding of the efficacy and safety of Orencia and continuing to address the unmet needs of adult patients with moderate to severe rheumatoid arthritis," Bristol SVP global development and medical affairs Brian Daniels said.


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Walgreens after-care MTM yields improved patient care

BY Michael Johnsen

DECATUR, Ga. — DeKalb Medical has teamed up with Walgreens pharmacists to help patients understand and comply with medication therapies following treatment at the hospital — a collaborative relationship, which already has in just its first three months of existence, improved patient care and satisfaction, DeKalb reported Thursday.

DeKalb Medical improved its Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems top box scores pertaining to patient communications on medication from 50% to 63% over a 90-day period following the program’s launch. HCAHPS scores have continued to trend upward beyond the initial 90-day period as operation of the comprehensive pharmacy program with Walgreens continues.

Walgreens operates a full-service outpatient pharmacy adjacent to DeKalb Medical’s Health and Wellness Store on the DeKalb Medical Main campus in Decatur. Beginning in July, Walgreens pharmacy staff implemented a comprehensive patient-centered discharge medication program. Prior to hospital discharge, this service provided patients who elected to take advantage of the service with proper instruction focused on their new medication therapy, along with the convenience of prescription delivery to the patient at their bedside in the hospital. By eliminating the need to travel to a pharmacy following a hospital stay, the service contributes to the patient’s ability to comply with medication therapy. In addition, Walgreens pharmacists conduct follow-up phone calls to patients within 72 hours of discharge from the hospital to answer questions on medications, potential side effects and treatment programs.

“A patient who is informed and secure in their treatment program following a hospital stay is more likely to stay adherent to their medications and to achieve a better health outcome,” DeKalb Medical SVP and chief nurse executive Cathleen Wheatley said. “By working with Walgreens, we’ve been able to ease the burden on DeKalb Medical patients and their families during challenging times by offering simple and easy access to medications and to health and pharmacy professionals who can address concerns and questions that can follow a hospital stay.”

“This is a great example of the role our pharmacists can play in a coordinated care program that benefits both the patient and the hospital,” added Kermit Crawford, Walgreens president of pharmacy, health and wellness services and solutions. “Medication therapies can be challenging for patients and caregivers. And services like bedside delivery, pharmacist follow-up with patients after discharge and ongoing access to Walgreens community pharmacists who provide education and counseling help ensure a smooth and healthy transition from the hospital to the home.”

The implementation of the programs with Walgreens was a key element of an overarching initiative by DeKalb Medical to improve patient satisfaction. DeKalb Medical was recognized for these efforts when it received a top award for innovation from VHA Georgia in September 2011.


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