PHARMACY

Script Your Future kicks off in Providence

BY Antoinette Alexander

PROVIDENCE, R.I. — Members of a local coalition in Providence launched on Monday the Script Your Future campaign, which is part of a national effort to educate consumers on the importance of medication adherence.

Elizabeth Roberts, lieutenant governor of the state of Rhode Island, together with the National Consumers League on Monday will launch Script Your Future in Providence to raise awareness among patients about the health consequences of not taking medication as directed.

CVS Caremark, a national partner in the Script Your Future campaign, is headquartered in Rhode Island and will participate in Monday’s Providence launch.

Providence is 1-of-6 regional city markets where the campaign will pilot activities, research and advertising. The other regional markets are Baltimore, Md.; Birmingham, Ala.; Cincinnati; Raleigh, N.C.; and Sacramento, Calif.

"Nonadherence to medication is a major public health concern," Roberts said. "The Script Your Future campaign will bring tools and resources to our state and provide residents with education that ultimately will improve medication adherence and lead to Rhode Islanders living healthier lives."

More than one-third of medicine-related hospitalizations and nearly 125,000 deaths in the United States each year are due to people not taking their medicines as directed.

"CVS Caremark has undertaken significant health policy research in an effort to better understand why patients do not take their medications as prescribed, so we are very pleased to be a national partner in the Script Your Future campaign," stated Papatya Tankut, VP pharmacy professional services at CVS Caremark. "In the coming months, we will be providing information about the campaign in our 7,200 CVS/pharmacy locations throughout the [United States] in order to raise awareness about this important health issue with our customers."

U.S. surgeon general Regina Benjamin helped kick off the national campaign on May 11 in Washington, D.C. Medication adherence is part of the surgeon general’s prevention focus. "Our national challenge is to prevent poor health outcomes and to become a healthy and fit nation. One way is for the healthcare community and patients to come together to address the serious issue of medication nonadherence," Benjamin said.

"As a family physician, I know that conversations between clinicians and their patients are key to patients understanding why taking their medication correctly is so important, particularly in chronic health conditions such as diabetes, asthma and high blood pressure," Benjamin added. "The tools offered through NCL’s Script Your Future campaign empower patients to talk with their healthcare teams about their medication questions and concerns."

Script Your Future aims to educate and offer tools for patients to help them better adhere. Tools include free text message reminders, sample questions, medication lists, condition management sheets and fact sheets on common chronic conditions. All can be found on the campaign website, ScriptYourFuture.org.

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PHARMACY

Amneal to manufacture generic Furadantin

BY Allison Cerra

BRIDGEWATER, N.J. — A generic drug maker has been granted approval from the Food and Drug Administration to manufacture its version of a urinary tract infection treatment.

Amneal Pharmaceuticals said that its nitrofurantoin oral suspension in the 25-mg/5-mL strength is the first-to-market, AB-rated, generic version of Furadantin, which is made by Shionogi Pharma.

Amneal will sell its generic in 8-oz./230-mL size bottles, the company said.

Annual U.S. sales of nitrofurantoin oral suspension totaled $40 million for the year ended in January, according to IMS Health data.

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Patients, gov’t benefit from generic SSRI, SNRI adherence

BY Alaric DeArment

The $290 billion that poor medication adherence costs the U.S. economy every year cuts across every imaginable disease state, but one in which it can be particularly problematic is mental health.


According to pharmacy benefit manager Express Scripts, depression accounts for more than $83 billion in medical costs every year, making it a major cause of disability. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, major depressive disorder affects 6.7% of adults in the United States per year, while 11.2% of adolescents experience the disorder at some point between the ages of 13 and 18 years. 


One study conducted by Express Scripts and published in the Journal of Managed Care Pharmacy found that patients with depression who started therapy with generic drugs were as likely to remain adherent as those who started on branded drugs. The study — which analyzed data on antidepressant usage from more than 16,000 patient records in Express Scripts’ MarketScan database — showed that patients who started with generic versions of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors and selective norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors had a therapy-discontinuation rate of 44.2%, compared with 46.8% among those taking branded SSRIs and SNRIs. But at the same time, drug costs for those taking generics were almost 50% lower, and total healthcare costs were approximately 20% lower, costing an average of $3,660 for patients starting on a generic and $4,587 for those starting on a branded drug.


Depression as a side effect of medications can affect adherence as well, such as with interferons used to treat hepatitis C. According to a 3,607-patient study conducted by PBM Medco Health Solutions in April, adherence among hepatitis C patients may improve when they take antidepressants in addition to their interferons. “A common side effect of interferon use is depression, but little research has been done looking at the impact of treating depression on a patient’s adherence with their hepatitis C medications,” Medco Advanced Clinical Science and Research Group director of clinical innovation Mary Cassler said. 


The study found that 40% of hepatitis C patients taking interferons — which include Genentech’s Pegasys (peginterferon alfa-2a) and Merck’s PegIntron (peginterferon alfa-2b) — were not adherent, which could put them at risk of the disease progressing, but those who were taking antidepressants as well as interferons had the highest rates of adherence, with 68.5% taking their drugs properly.

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