Proposed FDA policy could provide route for OTC statin sales, expand pharmacist role
WHAT IT MEANS AND WHY IT’S IMPORTANT — One of the long-term goals of many drug companies has been to win Food and Drug Administration approval for cholesterol-lowering statins as over-the-counter drugs. But it’s a goal that has long eluded them due to the agency’s concerns about patient safety.
(THE NEWS: FDA mulls making some prescription drugs available over the counter. For the full story, click here.)
But the FDA’s recently proposed policy for selling certain prescription drugs over the counter under special supervision from the pharmacist and physician could offer a way around the difficulty drug makers have had so far persuading the agency to allow an OTC switch for statins.
Granted, the conditions the FDA outlined for selling statins and other drugs over the counter wouldn’t be the same as selling them at a lower dose directly from the store shelves like OTC proton-pump inhibitors or even behind-the-counter drugs — it still would require patients to have a diagnosis or to obtain an initial prescription from a physician, and regulations would be individually tailored to each drug.
At the same time, an important aspect of the proposed policy is that it would enhance the pharmacist’s role as an extension of the physician, while also allowing a greater role for technology in self-diagnosis. For example, while a patient could use a kiosk or other device to self-diagnose for some medical conditions or check for drug interactions, the pharmacist still would step in to confirm the diagnosis before allowing the drug’s purchase.
Physicians will always be needed to mend fractures or determine whether that mole is something to worry about, but allowing pharmacists to provide a greater share of services at the retail level with the aid of technology helps to take a lot of work off doctors’ hands, thereby helping to reduce healthcare costs for patients and payers alike.
Face-to-face counseling fills voids that mail order cannot
WHAT IT MEANS AND WHY IT’S IMPORTANT — The news that Walgreens outlined how face-to-face pharmacy and Take Care Clinic programs have been shown to drive better health outcomes further illustrates the fact that human interaction simply does things that mail order cannot.
(THE NEWS: Walgreens: Face-to-face consults with pharmacists, retail clinicians reduce health spend. For the full story, click here.)
As the article states, Walgreens’ research has shown that face-to-face counseling with diabetes patients reduces levels for A1C, blood pressure and LDL; it results in a rise in immunization rates; and helps educate at-risk patients on the importance of receiving a pneumococcal vaccination.
The fact is that having that human interaction in the pharmacy or a retail-based health clinic simply provides a level of quality health care that mail order cannot provide. For example, if a patient comes into a Take Care Clinic during flu season, that’s the opportune time for a nurse practitioner to review the patient’s history, and, if they meet the criteria, also offer the patient a pneumonia vaccine.
Or take a look at the hepatitis B vaccine. There’s been an increase in recommendations for diabetics to receive the hepatitis B vaccine, so diabetics who visit clinics for other services also may be able to receive that additional protection.
These obviously are just two small examples, but the message is loud and clear — the power of pharmacist- and nurse practitioner-led face-to-face programs is significant.
BI named sponsor of APhA Bowl of Hygeia Award program
RIDGEFIELD, Conn. — One of pharmacy’s top awards is getting some support from a German drug maker. Boehringer Ingelheim announced that it became a premier supporter of the American Pharmacists Association’s Bowl of Hygeia Award.
"Just as the Bowl of Hygeia encourages pharmacists to take active roles in their communities, Boehringer Ingelheim has a strong commitment to making more health in its communities," BI executive director for trade sales and operations Bob Belknap said. "Becoming the premier supporter in 2012, and continuing the proud tradition of this program, is something we felt strongly about."
The award, established in 1958, is presented each year by participating state pharmacist associations. In addition to service through their local, state and national pharmacy associations, award recipients devote their time, talent and resources to a wide variety of causes and community service. In all, approximately 3,000 pharmacists have been recognized with the Bowl of Hygeia award in the history of the award.