NCPA, Sharps Compliance announce partnership
ALEXANDRIA, Va. The National Community Pharmacists Association is teaming up with Sharps Compliance to emphasize the proper disposal of unused medications.
The partnership agreement offers NCPA’s member pharmacies discounted services for the Sharps Takeaway Environmental Return System, which includes a nearly 20% discount plus free shipping. Participating pharmacies can either offer their patients postage pre-paid envelopes or collect unused medicines in 10 or 20 gallon collection boxes in a secure location within the pharmacy. Once the envelope is used or the box is full, it should be returned immediately — via the U.S. Postal Service or UPS — for disposal. In addition to the discount, participating pharmacies get free access to customizable flyers, counter cards, bag stuffers and posters to promote their take back programs.
The NCPA-Sharps partnership arises out of NCPA’s Prescription Disposal Program that was launched last year. The initial version provided members with the tools to successfully design and market medication return programs, provided information about Board of Pharmacy regulations, and reinforced the Drug Enforcement Administration and other’s guidelines restrictions on the return and transport of controlled substances without the direct involvement of law enforcement, NCPA said.
The event is in conjunction with the 40th anniversary of Earth Week (April 17-24).
“This exciting partnership gives many community pharmacies an easier way to meet a growing patient demand for a safe and environmentally friendly way to safely discard unused medications,” said Joseph H. Harmison, NCPA president and pharmacy owner. “By using the Sharps Takeaway Environmental Return System pharmacies can do well by doing good. It’s not every day that pharmacists can help achieve a cleaner environment and less prescription drug abuse among our youth while introducing new customers to their local community pharmacy. Programs like this should be voluntary but I hope many pharmacies seize the opportunity to make the 40th Earth Day one that their communities will remember.”
Turning new corner, Winn-Dixie builds store
COVINGTON, La. —Winn-Dixie Stores in early February celebrated the completion of its new store, the first ground-up store for the grocer since 2004.
“We are very proud to be able to offer this beautiful store to the neighbors and communities of Covington,” stated Winn-Dixie chairman, CEO and president Peter Lynch. “Not only does it provide a best-in-class shopping experience, but it brings 200 new jobs to the area, as well.”
The 55,000-sq.-ft. supermarket, located a little north of New Orleans, features a 24-ft. tall open entrance way highlighted by an outdoor farmer’s market. Inside are a host of “enhanced” features, including a wine department staffed with a wine steward, a peanut butter machine and a full pharmacy department and wellness center.
Winn-Dixie offers several health testing services and immunization opportunities for consumers throughout the year. As a recent enhancement to its pharmacy offering, Winn-Dixie rolled out its WD RxConnect program chainwide. WD RxConnect links all of Winn-Dixie’s more than 400 pharmacies through a centralized prescription record system and also allows patients to access their own records online. “That’s kind of unique in the food store industry,” John Fegan, Winn-Dixie VP pharmacy, told Drug Store News earlier this year. “Under the WD RxConnect program, a patient can walk in, look up their medication history online and see what they’re taking.”
E-prescribing use soars, but independents unconnected
NEW YORK —American retail pharmacy continued its slow but inexorable journey into the 21st century in 2009 as a mixture of government incentives and trends resulted in a mushrooming of prescribers and pharmacists embracing electronic prescribing and electronic health records.
According to e-prescribing network Surescripts, the volume of e-prescriptions went from 240 million in 2008 to 800 million in 2009, while the number of active e-prescribers went from 78,000—12% of all office-based prescribers—to 150,000 over the same period.
“While this is a positive development, there is much room to build on this growth,” National Community Pharmacists Association associate director of public relations John Norton told Drug Store News. NCPA helped sponsor the creation of Surescripts, along with the National Association of Chain Drug Stores and the pharmacy benefit managers CVS Caremark, Express Scripts and Medco Health Solutions.
By October 2009, 100% of pharmacies in Rhode Island were using e-prescribing, and the statewide system allowed state health authorities to track prescriptions and usage of such antiviral drugs as Roche’s Tamiflu (oseltamivir) to identify possible problems, such as shortages, over-prescribing and misuse by patients.
By the end of 2009, 85% of community pharmacies nationwide were connected for e-prescribing, Norton said, but independent pharmacies have lagged, with 40% remaining unconnected and capabilities varying “tremendously” among independents, particularly in rural areas. Also, given the relatively small number of prescribers electronically transmitting prescriptions, not all community pharmacies with e-prescribing equipment actually use it regularly.
That could change soon, however. The financial incentives for adopting e-prescribing under the Medicare Improvements for Patients and Providers Act of 2008 kicked in at the beginning of 2009, offering qualified prescribers payments of 2% of their Medicare Part B physician fee schedule, and the MIPPA incentives have been cited as a reason for the strong growth in e-prescribing in the last year. The 2% rate will continue through 2010, but will fall to 1% in 2011 and 0.5% in 2013. Starting in 2012, prescribers who have failed to adopt e-prescribing will pay 1% penalty fees, which will increase to 1.5% in 2013 and 2% in 2014.
On the electronic health records side, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 provides physicians with stimulus incentives of between $44,000 and $64,000 if they can demonstrate “meaningful use” of a certified EHR system, and in January, healthcare information technology firm Allscripts launched the Allscripts Stimulus Program, designed to persuade prescribers to adopt EHR. Dozens of states also have received federal matching funds for moving to electronic health records under ARRA, according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
General adoption of EHR and e-prescribing is well on its way to happening in the United States, but it still faces obstacles.
“Challenges include installation and transaction costs, the costs associated with training staff and challenges with physician prescriber management systems, having to call back physicians regarding incomplete information on prescriptions, the incompatibility of technology systems and enhancing two-way online communications with prescribers,” Norton said.