PHARMACY

NCPA releases progress report on medication adherence initiative

BY Michael Johnsen

ALEXANDRIA, Va. — The National Community Pharmacists Association on Wednesday released Moving Forward on a Solid Foundation: Year One Progress Report, which examines the success of the association’s strategic initiative Pharmacists Advancing Medication Adherence. 

The 16-page report covers July 2011 through July 2012 and outlines the tangible and measurable steps that are currently underway in facilitating the ability of independent community pharmacists to provide adherence services as a core competency of the profession, equivalent to the dispensing process, by 2015. 

"NCPA is committed to advancing and improving patient medication adherence, which is why we launched this ambitious, comprehensive and realistic five-year program to address this problem," stated NCPA CEO Douglas Hoey. "As very accessible and highly trained medication experts that patients trust, independent community pharmacists are perfectly suited to help drive greater adherence. NCPA wants to help its members maximize their potential in this critical component of health care," he said. "We are confident that, when the five-year program concludes, the disturbing number of $290 billion a year being wasted on the improper use of medication will begin to recede and momentum for further improvement will be clear."

As part of PAMA, NCPA has launched Simplify My Meds, an adherence program that allows pharmacists to coordinate patients’ prescription refills on a single day of the month. This model facilitates a more comprehensive and coordinated level of pharmacy care, reduces the potential for gaps in therapy, and promotes improved medication adherence. 

Research has confirmed that refill coordination at a single pharmacy is recognized as an effective tactic to improve adherence, and to date, more than 26,000 patients are benefiting from this service at more than 700 community pharmacies nationwide. NCPA also launched www.stick2thescript.org, an online resource that provides pharmacists and other healthcare providers with a comprehensive set of tools, programs and materials to use with patients to help them understand the goals and outcomes of their prescription regimen, manage their chronic conditions and take their medications as directed.

PAMA is supported by unrestricted grants from Cardinal Health Foundation, GlaxoSmithKline, Merck and Pfizer.

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PHARMACY

New York Gov. Cuomo visits PharmaSmart

BY Alaric DeArment

NEW YORK — Kiosk manufacturer PharmaSmart got a visit from New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo Tuesday as he visited companies that his administration sees as leading the way in the state’s economic development.

PharmaSmart was one of two companies in the Rochester, N.Y., area and one of 20 in the state overall to become part of Cuomo’s Empire State Development Program.

PharmaSmart COO and general manager Ashton Maaraba said his company, which is preparing to move into a new, 50,000 sq. ft. manufacturing plant, was selected because it’s the initiator and developer of a product, and a company that does all its own manufacturing and distribution. "We’re a company that basically is leading the new wave of success stories throughout upstate New York," Maaraba told Drug Store News.

Maaraba touted the rising star of Rochester, also home to supermarket chain Wegman’s and a community-based healthcare system featuring a collaborative care model that works with local pharmacy retailers, which has seen a number of new companies crop up in the wake of the fall of photography giant Kodak. "Some of the most leading-edge health IT and biotechnology companies are being incubated, so you have an emerging ‘Silicon Valley’ emerging in Rochester," Maaraba said.


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PHARMACY

Walgreens to focus on importance of HIV testing, early treatment on World AIDS Day

BY Michael Johnsen

DEERFIELD, Ill. — On World AIDS Day, Dec. 1, Walgreens will encourage communities to focus on the importance of HIV testing and early treatment, both services addressed through its more than 700 HIV-specialized pharmacies coast to coast, the company announced Wednesday. 

“While many HIV patients visit their physicians only once or twice a year, they typically see their pharmacist at least every month,” stated Suzanne Hansen, Walgreens group VP pharmacy operations. “Our pharmacists are members of the healthcare community and are well-positioned to support HIV patients in addressing the variety of issues they may face, including help with side effects, emotional support and motivation to take their medications as prescribed. These interventions can positively influence HIV medication adherence, which can be key to improving overall health.”

Walgreens HIV-specialized pharmacies directly support the National HIV/AIDS Strategy by offering a range of personalized services that can improve health outcomes, increase access and help fill gaps in care, particularly in AIDS-endemic communities where stigma and other disparities may hamper diagnosis and complicate treatment.

The HIV-specialized pharmacies are equipped with systems, processes and safety checks that operate “behind the scenes” to provide discreet specialized care in a convenient walk-in setting. Each site is fully stocked with HIV medications and a wide range of related healthcare essentials. Walgreens HIV-specialized locations are staffed by pharmacists, technicians and other workers who have special HIV training. 

With discretion in mind, Walgreens does not use HIV/AIDS-related signs to call out specialized locations. Customers can visit HIV.Walgreens.com to find the nearest HIV-specialized location, as well as to review pharmacists’ HIV credentials and profiles.

A Walgreens study of more than 15,000 HIV patients showed that those who received care through an HIV-specialized pharmacy were significantly more adherent to their medication (74%) than those receiving care through a traditional, nonspecialized pharmacy (69%).

Patients who do not take their medication as prescribed run the risk of treatment failure — meaning the medication no longer works — which can have serious and even fatal health implications. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated that only 25% of Americans with HIV have the virus under control.

More than 2,000 Walgreens pharmacists across the country have completed special HIV/AIDS-accredited educational programs, including social and cultural training, along with annual continuing education. Thousands more nonpharmacist employees also receive special HIV sensitivity training.

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