PHARMACY

Rite Aid immunizations garner award

BY Alaric DeArment

CAMP HILL, Pa. — A retail pharmacy chain’s efforts to immunize customers have won recognition from an organization of the country’s pharmacists.

Rite Aid won the American Pharmacists Association’s Immunization Champion Award in the national corporation and institution category, the chain said Thursday.

Rite Aid said it was recognized for its comprehensive program that included using the APhA Immunization Certificate Training Program to train more than 11,000 of its pharmacists to administer vaccines to patients. The company reported more than 1.4 million flu shots in its December 2011 analyst call, more than double 2010’s total.

"Rite Aid made a companywide commitment to boosting public immunization rates for flu and other vaccine-preventable diseases," Rite Aid EVP Robert Thompson said. "It’s an honor to be recognized by our peers, [the] American Pharmacists Association, for our efforts."

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PHARMACY

Diabetes Prevention and Control Alliance extended to Safeway stores in select markets

BY Allison Cerra

MINNETONKA, Minn. — Another retailer has joined the UnitedHealth Group’s Diabetes Prevention and Control Alliance, an initiative designed to help address the growing epidemic of prediabetes and Type 2 diabetes.

UnitedHealth Group said Safeway now is offering the DPCA’s diabetes control program at stores located in Tucson, Ariz., and eventually will extend the program to include Seattle-area stores. In-store pharmacists in select Safeway locations will conduct blood-glucose, cholesterol and blood-pressure testing services for program participants and provide them with on-the-spot results, enabling patients to get immediate feedback on their status or progress in managing their diabetes.

Other participating retailers include Winn-Dixie, Walgreens, Albertsons and Kroger, along with UnitedHealth Group, the Y and Novo Nordisk.

“Safeway continues to be a leader in advancing innovative solutions to help our customers live healthier lives, and providing tools and services to prevent disease,” Safeway SVP pharmacy, health and wellness Darren Singer said. “Diabetes continues to take a devastating toll on families and communities, and through Safeway’s participation in the DPCA, we are helping provide greater access to care for our customers and helping them manage and take control of this disease.”


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Drug costs decline but remain high for many families, study finds

BY Alaric DeArment

NEW YORK — While the financial burden that families face due to prescription drugs has declined, costs nevertheless remain a challenge for many of them, according to a new study by nonprofit research organization Rand Corp.

The study, published in the February issue of the journal Health Affairs, found that more than 8 million non-elderly Americans lived in families facing high drug costs in 2008, with a quarter devoting more than half of their out-of-pocket medical spending on prescription drugs. Overall, the percentage of people with a high financial burden for prescription drugs increased from 1999 to 2003, went down between 2003 and 2007 and increased slightly in 2008. In 1999, about 3% of non-elderly Americans lived in families that spent more than 10% of their income on prescription drugs, while nearly 27% lived in families where more than half of all out-of-pocket healthcare costs were spent on drugs. By 2003, those figures had risen to 4% and 33.6%, respectively, subsequently falling to 3.1% and 25.4% by 2008.

The study found that while spending on prescription drugs accounts for 10% of all healthcare spending in the United States, out-of-pocket costs for doors make up a much larger percentage of health spending by individuals, especially among low-income people with government-provided insurance and those with such chronic diseases as diabetes.

"Our findings are evidence of the success of strategies already in place to help lower the cost of medications for consumers, even during a period when medication use was increasing," lead study author Walid Gellad said. "But the burden of drug costs remains high for many Americans, which is an important issue for policy-makers to consider as health reform extends insurance coverage to more people."

The researchers found that the main reason for the decrease in drug costs was that the increased use of generic drugs as health plans over the last decade have encouraged their use and generic versions of more drugs have become available.


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