HEALTH

Second D.C.-area MinuteClinic opens

BY Antoinette Alexander

WASHINGTON MinuteClinic celebrated the opening of its second clinic location inside a CVS/pharmacy store in the District of Columbia with a ribbon-cutting ceremony.

The new MinuteClinic, located inside the CVS/pharmacy at 320 40th Street NE in the Benning neighborhood, serves residents in Ward 7 and is within walking distance of Metro stations on the orange and blue lines, as well as Metrobus service. It joins the first MinuteClinic to open in the district at 845 Bladensburg Rd. NE in Ward 5 in the Carver Langston neighborhood.

David Catania, District of Columbia council member at-large and chair of the Council’s Committee on Health, and Yvette Alexander, council member for Ward 7, joined executives from CVS Caremark and MinuteClinic for the ceremony.

“As chair of the District of Columbia City Council’s Committee on Health, I have made it a top priority to expand access to quality health care for all district residents,” Catania stated. “That is why I am so pleased to partner with CVS for the opening of the first MinuteClinic east of the Anacostia River. By offering convenient and affordable routine medical services, the clinic will go a long way to helping the residents of this community obtain the health care they need.”

MinuteClinic stressed its commitment to helping the “district broaden access to healthcare services,” and plans to announce additional openings in the coming year.

MinuteClinic locations also can be found inside select CVS/pharmacy stores in Montgomery and Prince George’s counties in Maryland and in cities throughout Northern Virginia.

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Seniors likely won’t sway from benefit plan

BY Alaric DeArment

WHAT IT MEANS AND WHY IT’S IMPORTANT A plan by health insurer Humana and Walmart to offer a cheap prescription drug plan to seniors who shop at the mass merchandiser may be a little off the mark, if results of the survey of Medicare beneficiaries is to be believed.

(THE NEWS: Many seniors are satisfied with Medicare Rx benefit, survey shows. For the full story, click here)

The survey indicated that an overwhelming majority of beneficiaries are satisfied with their coverage and found prices affordable.

Price isn’t the only thing that customers take into consideration, even when economic times are difficult. According to a customer service satisfaction survey by J.D. Powers and Associates, consumers gave significantly higher marks to independent pharmacies than they did to chains — particularly in areas such as the shopping experience and staff — while Walmart actually got a score below the average for mass merchandisers.

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CVS Caremark announces settlement of PSE sales suit

BY Antoinette Alexander

WOONSOCKET, R.I. Under a settlement reached with the Drug Enforcement Administration and the U.S. Attorneys’ Offices for the Central District of California and the District of Nevada, CVS Caremark has agreed to pay $75 million in civil penalties and $2.6 million in profit forfeitures to settle allegations that in 2007 and 2008, certain CVS/pharmacy stores in California and Nevada engaged in unlawful sales of pseudoephedrine.

CVS also must maintain certain compliance measures to monitor and prevent excessive sales of the ingredient found in popular over-the-counter cold-cough medicines. In addition, the settlement acknowledged that a distribution center in California failed to monitor and report excessive PSE sales by CVS/pharmacy stores; it related only to the retail pharmacy business.

“We are announcing today that we have resolved this issue, which unfortunately resulted from a breakdown in CVS/pharmacy’s normally high management and oversight standards,” stated Tom Ryan, chairman and CEO of CVS Caremark. “While this lapse occurred in 2007 and 2008, and has been addressed, it was an unacceptable breach of the company’s policies and was totally inconsistent with our values. CVS/pharmacy is unwavering in its support of the measures taken by the federal government and the states to prevent drug abuse. To make certain this kind of lapse never takes place again,” Ryan continued, “we have strengthened our internal controls and compliance measures, and made substantial investments to improve our handling and monitoring of PSE by implementing enhanced technology and making other improvements in our stores and distribution centers.”

The settlement does not impact any other business conducted by CVS or any of its affiliated companies. In addition, the settlement amount has been fully reserved, as previously disclosed, and should have no further effect on the company’s financial results, the company stated.

The settlement related to excessive sales of PSE at certain CVS/pharmacy locations that resulted from the flawed implementation of an electronic monitoring system to record individual PSE sales. As implemented in California, Nevada and certain other states, the system did not prevent multiple sales of PSE that totaled more than the federal daily legal limit, which made certain CVS/pharmacy stores vulnerable to criminals who intended to purchase large amounts of PSE. The excessive sales occurred primarily in California and Nevada. The settlement includes not only federal jurisdictions in California and Nevada, but also federal jurisdictions in 23 other states where the system was not implemented properly, CVS stated.

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