Retail, pharmacy groups respond to election results
NEW YORK — Americans woke up Wednesday morning to the news that Barack Obama had won a second term as president of the United States. Some people may be happy about that, others unhappy and others neutral — but win or lose, the results of Tuesday’s election affect everyone, including those in the retail pharmacy industry.
After the results came in, just as before, the top issue was the economy, but the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act remained high on the list of priorities as well, even though according to several sources, Obama’s reelection means total repeal of the law is unlikely to happen. Despite Obama’s victory, Congress remained divided, with Democrats retaining control of the Senate and Republicans keeping their majority in the House.
According to exit polls Tuesday night, opinions among voters about the healthcare reform law remained divided, Politico reported. Forty-five percent said they thought it should be partially or totally repealed, while 47% favored keeping it in its present form or expanding it.
Important for chain pharmacy, the vast majority of the candidates it backed were victorious Tuesday night, indicating that the new Congress would understand critical industry issues. In a November 7 note to National Association of Chain Drug Stores members, NACDS president and CEO Steve Anderson said that 92% of the candidates the NACDS-PAC had supported for the House and 93% of those it had supported in the Senate had won. The NACDS-PAC spent $932,100 on the 2011-2012 Congressional election cycle to, which included $617,000 that it had raised through 35 fundraising events and $315,100 raised and distributed by the NACDS-PAC to candidate committees, leadership PACs and party committees, supporting candidates from both parties.
"In determining candidates to support, NACDS-PAC considers — among other criteria — the candidate’s position or voting record on issues affecting the growth and sustainability of pharmacy; the integrity and character of the candidate; the candidate’s leadership or policy-shaping position within his or her party; and the presence of NACDS members in a candidate’s state or district," Anderson wrote.
Key Congressional leaders among the candidates supported by NACDS-PAC included House of Representatives Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-CA); House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI); House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-MI); House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health Ranking Member Frank Pallone (D-NJ); and community pharmacy champion and vice chair of the House Republican Conference Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA), among others.
In official statements, both the National Retail Federation and American Pharmacists Association both pledged to work with the administration.
"Issues affecting the retail industry are the same critical issues facing policymakers in Washington," National Retail Federation president and CEO Matthew Shay said. "On behalf of retailers, their employees and their customers, we want to see healthcare reform that actually reduces costs instead of imposing mandates, tax reform that makes U.S. businesses more competitive, sales-tax fairness that puts Main Street and online retailers on a level playing field, neutral labor policy that doesn’t favor either employers or unions over the other, credit and debit card swipe fees based on transparency and competition rather than monopolies, and removal of trade barriers that drive up consumer prices."
APhA EVP and CEO Thomas Menighan congratulated Obama on his reelection.
"The administration and the new Congress have many challenges to address in health care in 2013, and APhA will make sure that the voices of pharmacists are heard both in the halls of Congress and in the offices of the executive branch," Menighan said. The APhA said that despite divided opinions over the healthcare reform law, there was "clear bipartisan support" for medication therapy management and increased roles for pharmacists in the healthcare system, and "The value proposition pharmacists bring to collaborative health care is something APhA will continue to emphasize with the Obama administration and new and continuing members of Congress.
At press time, the National Community Pharmacists Association, a trade group for independent pharmacies, had not issued a statement about the election results.
As many anticipated, the reelection of the President and the deeply divided Congress has resulted in anxieties over the future of the economy. At the close of trading Wednesday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 312 points, or 2.4%, to 12,933, over concerns of an approaching dispute over fiscal policy in Congress.
Regarding the economy in general, Politico reported that 53% of voters surveyed said the government was taking on too many responsibilities best left to the private sector, an increase by 10% over 2008, while 41% said the government should do more.
While many believe that health reform will have a positive impact on retail pharmacy, generating millions of ne prescriptions, according to an online poll of Drugstorenews.com readers that at press time had received 1,157 responses, 56% said Mitt Romney would have had the most positive effect on the retail pharmacy business.
Boots U.K. testing in-store health guides armed with tablets
LONDON — Boots U.K. recently took a page out of Walgreens’ playbook with the placement of health guides across the front-end.
As part of its multi-channel strategy, Boots U.K. is currently testing the use of iPads to support in-store ordering across 30 stores, the London-based drug store retailer recently announced.
“Our ambition is to create a seamless customer experience across our online and in-store offering, and to bring the very best Boots U.K. has to offer to our customers," stated Ruth Spencer, Boots U.K. loyalty and multi-channel director. "Our vision is that our customers can access us where, when and however they want, and iPad technology will enable our colleagues to bring to life the fantastic range of products available at Boots U.K., regardless what size store our customers choose to visit.”
The test-market stores are medium-sized health and beauty format stores where store associates will be on hand with iPads to assist the selection and ordering of products.
A number of community pharmacy ‘Your local Boots pharmacy’ stores are also testing the technology to provide an extra source of healthcare information via BootsWebMD.
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Walgreens research: 90 day at retail generates cost savings and does not increase wastage
DEERFIELD, Ill. — A new Walgreens study examining the impact of 90-day medication refills at community pharmacies compared to 30-day refills for Medicaid patients found that across four therapeutic categories, patients with 90-day refills had greater medication adherence and greater persistency, nominal wastage and more cost savings. The study, titled "Medication Days’ Supply, Adherence, Wastage and Cost Among Chronic Patients in Medicaid," was published in Medicare & Medicaid Research Review and released Wednesday.
“Our 90-day refill program at our community pharmacies is an innovative healthcare solution that can help lower costs and improve patient outcomes, and another way in which Walgreens is advancing community pharmacy to help people get, stay and live well,” stated Jeffrey Kang, Walgreens SVP pharmacy, health and wellness services and solutions. “At the time of our study, only 13 states gave Medicaid patients the option to receive a 90-day medication supply. However, with the growing popularity and adoption of 90-day refills at community pharmacies, more and more Medicaid patients have an opportunity to benefit from face-to-face pharmacist interaction and the personalized care our pharmacists provide. Both patients and the healthcare system could benefit from reexamination of these broad state dispensing limitations.”
Compared to 30-day refills, patients with 90-day refills at community pharmacies had 20% higher adherence levels and 23% higher persistency rates. A projected savings of $13.95 per patient per year was tabulated, not including wastage costs, and adjusting for the effects of age, gender and comorbidity.
The study’s release comes as states throughout the U.S. have aimed to contain Medicaid pharmacy costs by placing dispensing limits on medication days’ supply (most have a limit of 34 days), in an effort to limit medication wastage. The results demonstrate that wastage can be nominal across the 30-day and 90-day channels, and that three-month fills at community pharmacies have the potential to significantly improve outcomes and lower costs among Medicaid patients. Many of these patients include those with chronic conditions who often face major socioeconomic challenges affecting their ability to remain adherent to medication therapies. Notably, almost half (45%) of Medicaid beneficiaries have three or more chronic illnesses, and this population accounts for 75% of total Medicare costs, Walgreens reported.
For the study, 52,898 patients prescribed to statin, antihypertensive, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor or oral hypoglycemic medications were identified using California Medicaid claims from the Walgreens pharmacy chain in January 2010. Adherence is a measurement of how often patients take their medications as prescribed, and persistency is the length of time patients continue taking their medications. Medication wastage is defined as a switch of drug or drug strength within the same therapeutic class that occurred before the expected refill date.
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