PHARMACY

Phone, mail reminders improve statin adherence, study finds

BY Alaric DeArment

PASADENA, Calif. — Automated phone and mail reminders increase the likelihood that patients with new prescriptions for cholesterol-lowering drugs will pick them up from the pharmacy, according to a new study.

Kaiser Permanente Southern California enrolled 5,216 patients and found that those receiving an automated reminder were 1.6 times more likely to fill prescriptions for statin drugs than those who didn’t receive reminders. The study was published in the journal Archives of Internal Medicine Monday.

When patients didn’t pick up their drugs within one or two weeks of a doctor’s appointment, they received informational and encouraging phone calls and received a reminder letter if they still had not picked up the medication a week after the phone call. The phone and mail prompts cost $1.70 per patient, according to the study, and after the intervention, the percentage of patients who picked up their prescriptions increased from 26% to 42%.

"Getting patients to take the well-proven medicines their physicians prescribe them will ultimately reduce their risk of heart attacks and stroke," Kaiser Permanente Southern California researcher Stephen Derose said. "This automated intervention is a good way to very efficiently reach a large number of people and improve their health outcomes."


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PHARMACY

Acute and growing shortage of primary care docs elevating role of pharmacists, nurse practitioners

BY Jim Frederick

Who needs the services of community pharmacists and the nurse practitioners who staff retail-based walk-in clinics and ambulatory care centers? Among others, the nearly 67 million Americans underserved by primary care physicians.

That’s the number of U.S. residents currently living in a part of the country where there’s a shortage of primary care doctors, according to the Department of Health and Human Services. What’s more, access to the family doctor is getting harder and harder even for those who do have a regular physician, according to the research group Marketdata Enterprises.

Of that group, “only 57% report having access to same- or next-day appointments, and 63% [have] difficulty getting access to care on nights, weekends or holidays without going to the emergency room,” the company reported in late September. What’s more, one in five adults “waited six days or more to see a doctor when they were sick in 2010,” Drug Store News senior editor Antoinette Alexander reported last week, quoting Marketdata research.

The growing dearth of primary care physicians is one big trend spurring the explosive growth of disease management and preventative health and wellness services from chain and independent pharmacists. It’s also driving the recent upsurge in retail clinics — and the growing menu of health and diagnostic services offered by NPs in those clinics.

It’s about access and convenience. Patients who suffer a severe sprain or need a flu shot or sports physical don’t want to wait days to see a doctor, and neither they nor their insurers want to spend the time or money it takes to visit a typical physician practice or emergency room for relatively minor or preventative care.

As Alexander reports, the need for more accessible and affordable primary-care alternatives is also one factor behind the decision by the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners and the American College of Nurse Practitioners to merge their organizations, effective Jan. 1, 2013. For the combined organization, which will be known as the American Association of Nurse Practitioners or AANP, it’s about speaking with one voice to more effectively serve patients in a fast-changing health system, according to DSN.

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PHARMACY

Medication nonadherence costs drug makers $188 billion per year in U.S., report finds

BY Alaric DeArment

NORWALK, Conn. — When it comes to medication non-adherence, the most oft-cited statistic illustrating its effect on the healthcare system is the New England Healthcare Institute’s estimate that it costs the healthcare system $290 billion per year. But a new report shows how much drug makers lose as well.

Capgemini Consulting announced Monday the release of a study conducted with HealthPrize Technologies showing that the drug market loses $188 billion in U.S. sales and $564 billion in global sales each year due to patients not taking their medications as prescribed.

The report, "Estimated Annual Pharmaceutical Revenue Loss Due to Medication Non-Adherence," examined 100 therapeutic areas ranging from chronic conditions like high cholesterol, diabetes and hypertension to critical conditions like HIV, cancer and transplants, finding that the annual losses represent 59% of all pharmaceutical revenues, which healthcare market research firm IMS Health estimates were $320 billion in the United States and $956 billion globally in 2011; drug revenues would be $508 billion in the United States and $1.52 trillion globally were it not for the losses, the report found, and even a 10% increase in adherence would significantly raise revenues.

"The revenue that pharma leaves on the table due to lack of adherence to prescription medications is much higher than usually thought," Capgemini Consulting principal Thomas Forissier said. "In addition, many people don’t realize that a 10% boost in adherence could increase revenue by much more than 10%. That 10% loss is based on the higher revenue amount that could have materialized, not on actual revenue earned."


 

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