PHARMACY

Pharmacist-patient relationships improve health, lower costs of care, UNC-Kerr study reveals

BY Jim Frederick

RALEIGH, N.C. A healthy relationship with a community pharmacist can improve health outcomes for patients and save money, a new collaborative study from North Carolina-based Kerr Drug and the University of North Carolina revealed.

Those benefits stem from direct interventions in patient therapy by pharmacists, coupled with a coordinated approach to the patient’s treatment regimen by his or her pharmacist and doctor, according to Kerr.

“It’s all based on medication therapy management … when pharmacists and physicians work together to review patient profiles and decide on treatment plans,” Kerr noted Wednesday. “Pharmacists advised patients on how to take their medications and recommended lower-cost treatment options, such as over-the-counter medications. These efforts not only improved patient’s health, they were even found to decrease prescription drug costs for the North Carolina Medicaid program,” added Kerr, which operates nearly 100 retail pharmacies in the state, as well as an array of health and clinical-care programs for employer-based health plans.

 

The study was conducted by UNC-Chapel Hill and Kerr’s pharmacy and clinical management team, and was supported by a grant from the National Association of Chain Drug Stores Foundation. Researchers reviewed the cases of 88 patients enrolled in North Carolina’s Medicaid program from 2006-2007.

 

 

The analysis demonstrated the health benefits to patients who underwent pharmacist counseling, according to Kerr. It also turned up clear evidence of health cost savings.

 

 

“The MTM services helped the North Carolina Medicaid program save on average $9,444 annually, an average cost savings of $107 per beneficiary,” noted the company.

 

 

“Medication therapy management is more than just filling a prescription; it’s about helping patients completely understand their medications,” said Kerr chairman and CEO Tony Civello. “Our pharmacists provide personal health services and teach patients how to follow a medication regimen, recommend lower-cost medication alternatives and recognize potential harmful drug interactions.”

 

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Reaching out to new CMS administrator Berwick, NACDS highlights pro-patient, pro-pharmacy goals

BY Jim Frederick

ALEXANDRIA, Va. The National Association of Chain Drug Stores is moving quickly to establish a working relationship with newly installed Medicare and Medicaid chief Donald Berwick.

NACDS on Wednesday sent a letter to Berwick, who was tapped by President Obama to serve as the new administrator of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. NACDS president and CEO Steve Anderson urged continued collaboration with CMS on issues related to pharmacy that he said are vital to quality health care and cost reduction.

“NACDS and its member companies are committed to improving patient adherence to their prescription drug regimens,” Anderson told Berwick. “We strongly believe that access to neighborhood pharmacies and pharmacist-provided care can improve health outcomes for patients and reduce costs.”

Anderson also pointed to issues of major concern to retail pharmacy, including fair reimbursement for prescription and pharmacy services, pharmacy’s role in a medical home and the prevention of fraud, waste and abuse. He pledged NACDS’ support in working with the new CMS chief on ongoing efforts to reduce fraud and waste in the healthcare system.

“We look forward to working with you on these and other issues that impact chain pharmacies and the patients they serve,” the letter concluded.

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Eli Lilly acquires Alnara

BY Alaric DeArment

INDIANAPOLIS Drug maker Eli Lilly has finished its acquisition of a company developing a pancreatic disorder treatment.

Lilly announced Tuesday that it had finished acquiring Alnara Pharmaceuticals, a privately held company, in a deal announced July 2. Lilly acquired Alnara for an upfront payment of $180 million, and Alnara stockholders could receive up to $200 million in additional milestone payments based on product performance.

Alnara is developing liprotamase, a pancreatic enzyme replacement therapy under review by the Food and Drug Administration as a treatment for exocrine pancreatic insufficiency, a disease resulting from cystic fibrosis, removal of the pancreas, chronic pancreatitis and other conditions.

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