PHARMACY

Sebelius makes Recovery Act funding available to expand health professions training

BY Alaric DeArment

WASHINGTON Programs to increase the number of healthcare professionals got a boost Wednesday when Department of Health and Human Services secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced $200 million in funding to expand training.

Sebelius said the money will go toward grants, loans, loan repayment and scholarships to support the training of about 8,000 students and credentialed healthcare professionals by the end of fiscal year 2010, part of the $500 million allotted to HHS’ Health Resources and Services Administration under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

“Healthcare reform cannot happen without an adequate supply of well-trained, well-distributed providers,” Sebelius said in a statement. “These ARRA funds provide targeted investments in primary care, nursing, faculty development and equipment purchases that will shore up the workforce as we prepare for reform.”

Of the $200 million, $80.2 million will fund awards to students, professionals and faculty, with $39 million for nurses and nurse faculty and $41.2 million for students and faculty from disadvantaged backgrounds; $50 million will go to grants to training programs; $47.6 million will support training programs for primary care physicians; $10.5 million will strengthen the public health workforce; $10.2 million will go to diversity programs; and $1.5 million will support efforts of state professional licensing boards to support adoption of telemedicine.

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Food industry vets commence new lobbying practice

BY Allison Cerra

WASHINGTON Policy Solutions, a new government and public affairs firm, has opened a practice in Washington, led by three food industry veterans.

The new firm will provide strategic advice to its clients and assistance in coalition building, grassroots program development, media relations, and in community outreach and corporate responsibility programs.

The three principals of the lobbying group include John Motley, former SVP government affairs for the Food Marketing Institute; Barry Scher, former long-time VP public affairs for Giant Foods; and Jay Truitt, former VP government affairs for the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association. 

“With both a new Congress and administration, there will be increased legislative and regulatory activity. Policy Solution’s principals have an extensive experience in working with both Congress and the Executive Branch on a wide range of policy issues, from food safety to energy and from taxes to health care,” said Motley.

For more information on this group, visit policy-solutions.net.

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Wegmans seeks to reduce paper usage for prescriptions

BY Michael Johnsen

ROCHESTER, N.Y. Wegmans’ SVP of consumer affairs Mary Ellen Burris on Sunday noted that Wegmans pharmacies are losing a significant amount of paper weight in her weekly online blog.

Wegmans pharmacies are eliminating pharmacy prescription information sheets for all refills, she noted, which would more or less result in 10 million fewer printouts each year.

“That’s the scoop on … you know, the enclosure with every single prescription that you probably don’t even read while you’re throwing it away,” she wrote. “Now, there are some you should read … a first time prescription, for instance. However, after you understand the precautions, use, side effects, drug interactions and storage (my favorite, for a recently prescribed drug: “do not store in the bathroom” which is where I keep all medical stuff) … such information is typically not really needed for refills.”

Completing implementation of new pharmacy software made it possible, Burris noted, making pharmacy prescription information sheets for refills, which consist of about 50% of the prescriptions filled at Wegmans, obsolete.

Essential information is still printed with each prescription filled, however.

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