PHARMACY

NCPA survey finds pharmacists helped customers weather the (winter) storm

BY Allison Cerra

ALEXANDRIA, Va. A recent survey by the National Community Pharmacists Association indicated that local pharmacists stepped up to the plate to make sure that patients’ healthcare needs were met during the 2009-2010 winter season.

NCPA polled 85 community pharmacies in 26 snow-plagued states over a seven-day period in February, while much of the East Coast was still digging out from snow storms and some areas braced for additional winter precipitation.

The survey findings reveal a deep commitment to continue serving patients despite the trying circumstances:

  • 79% managed to maintain normal business hours, with some pharmacies opening early or staying late as necessary. Some used generators to supply power and remain open. Others extended phone services to meet emergency needs
  • 36% expanded their pharmacy’s home delivery service area to accommodate additional patients. Sometimes this included traversing unplowed roads in four-wheel-drive vehicles or picking up groceries for homebound patients
  • 45% witnessed an increase in the number of patients needing emergency fills due to the lack of mail service. Meeting this need usually required either contacting the physician or a lengthy phone call to the insurance company or pharmacy benefit manager for an override. In other cases, pharmacists provided a short-term supply at no cost to the patient and without reimbursement to the community pharmacy.

“These community pharmacists truly stepped up when the patient need was greatest,” said Joseph Harmison, NCPA president. “That commitment is one reason why pharmacists are consistently among the public’s most-trusted professions.”

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Pfizer may buy Ratiopharm

BY Alaric DeArment

NEW YORK It appears that Pfizer has changed its mind a second time about buying Ratiopharm.

According to published reports, Pfizer has renewed its offer for the German generic drug maker, for $4 billion. That pits the world’s largest drug maker against generic drug makers Teva Pharmaceutical Industries and Actavis.

Pfizer has been on a hunt for opportunities lately, most notably with its acquisition of Wyeth, as it faces patent expirations on such high-selling drugs as the cholesterol medication Lipitor (atorvastatin).

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Walgreens completes acquisition of SpecialtyScripts

BY Alaric DeArment

DEERFIELD, Ill. Walgreens has completed its acquisition of prescription files from Cardinal Health subsidiary SpecialtyScripts, based in Fall River, Mass., Walgreens announced Wednesday.

Founded in 2002, SpecialtyScripts niche is in providing specialty pharmacy services for such chronic illnesses and complex diseases as hepatitis C, psoriasis, rheumatoid arthritis and oral oncology.

Walgreens said the acquisition would allow Walgreens Specialty Pharmacy to scale the operations of its existing locations. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

“We’re excited about our acquisition of SpecialtyScripts and see it as an opportunity to grow our specialty pharmacy business through additional preferred payer agreements,” Walgreens Specialty Pharmacy EVP and Walgreens divisional VP Michael Nameth said in a statement. “It’s a good fit for us because SpecialtyScripts has a similar client base, and we share a commitment to providing patients and customers with quality care and exceptional service.”

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