PHARMACY

Sam’s Club pharmacies offer customers free Rx checkup

BY Allison Cerra

BENTONVILLE, Ark. — Sam’s Club pharmacies, which ranked highest among retailers in the prescription ordering and pickup process category in the J.D. Power and Associates 2010 U.S. National Pharmacy Study, is expanding its services this month.

Throughout the month of February, Sam’s Club is emphasizing its pharmacy segment by offering customers a free prescription checkup on any medication, as well as a free 10-count sample of its Member’s Mark fish oil supplements (except in Puerto Rico-based stores).

Other health offerings provided by Sam’s Club this month are free health screenings — valued at more than $150 — that include:

  • Blood-pressure checkups;
  • Body mass index assessment;
  • Total cholesterol, HDL and risk ratio; and
  • Personal consultation from a licensed pharmacist on a customer’s prescription drug medications.

The offerings celebrate the retailer’s ranking in the J.D. Power and Associates 2010 U.S. National Pharmacy Study, which was released last September. The results of the study were based on responses from more than 12,300 customers who filled a new prescription or refilled a prescription during the three months prior to the survey period. The study was fielded between May and June 2010.

"At Sam’s Club, we are exceptionally proud of our pharmacies and pharmacist teams, so this ranking reinforces our commitment, and it demonstrates our brand promise of savings made simple," said Jill Turner-Mitchael, SVP health and wellness. "We work hard to make ordering and pickup easy for our customers with text alerts and reminders, as well as providing experienced staff to answer any questions customers might have about their prescriptions."

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PHARMACY

HHS to state Medicaid programs: Offer more generic drugs

BY Alaric DeArment

WASHINGTON — The Department of Health and Human Services is encouraging state governments to save money with generic drugs.

In a document released Thursday, HHS secretary Kathleen Sebelius urged all 50 state governors to increase the use of generic drugs in their state Medicaid programs.

“By managing pharmacy benefits like other, more successful programs, governors can cut billions in Medicaid without cutting benefits to patients or payments to doctors and hospitals,” said Mark Merritt, president and CEO of the Pharmaceutical Care Management Association, a trade group representing the pharmacy benefit management industry.

The group said the next step would be for state Medicaid programs to stop paying pharmacies more than Medicare and other programs.

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Pharmacy lobbying groups back MTM Empowerment Act of 2011

BY Allison Cerra

ALEXANDRIA, Va. — New legislation that supports medication therapy management, which is known to improve patient health outcomes and lower healthcare costs, has been endorsed by the National Association of Chain Drug Stores and the National Community Pharmacists Association.

The Medication Therapy Management Empowerment Act of 2011, which was introduced by Sen. Kay Hagan, D-N.C., builds on legislation that Hagan authored in 2010 and also was co-sponsored by Sens. Al Franken, D-Minn., Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, and Tim Johnson, D-S.D.

The legislation supports MTM, a professional service offered by pharmacists and other qualified health practitioners that helps ensure medications are taken appropriately and can help patients — particularly Medicare beneficiaries and those with such chronic diseases as hypertension and diabetes — continue adhering to their medications, NACDS and NCPA said in a joint statement Thursday.

"This commonsense legislation can help patients understand the importance of taking their medications as prescribed, which can lead to improved health, as well as lowering their healthcare costs,” NACDS president and CEO Steve Anderson said.

Added NCPA EVP and CEO Kathleen Jaeger, "Patients rely on their trusted, community pharmacists for expert medication counseling and cost-saving services. Nowhere is that truer than with MTM."

A July 2009 report by the New England Health Institute estimated that the overall cost of poor medication adherence, measured in otherwise avoidable medical spending, is as much as $290 billion per year, or 13% of total healthcare expenditures.

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