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Standardized drug-administration instructions could improve adherence, group says

BY Alaric DeArment

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — With some studies showing that patients’ failure to take their medications as directed costs the economy nearly $300 billion per year, one group is looking to tackle what it sees as part of the problem: doctors’ and pharmacists’ instructions to patients on how much medicine to take and when.

The National Council for Prescription Drug Programs is pushing what it calls universal medication schedule, or UMS, which would standardize those instructions, and it announced Tuesday the release of a white paper that describes what it calls the need for such a schedule and how it could be implemented using its Script Standard for electronic prescribing.

"Inconsistencies in current prescription administration instructions between prescribers, pharmacists and patients pose quality of care and patient safety risks," NCPDP president Lee Ann Stember said. "Compounding the problem is the state of health literacy in the United States, which several studies have found contributes to greater use of emergency departments, increased hospitalizations and more complications and deaths from chronic conditions."

Currently, instructions for administering drugs may appear in an inconsistent manner on drug labels. For example, when a prescriber uses the medical jargon "1 qd," a pharmacist may transcribe it as anything from "take one tablet once daily" to "take one tablet every 24 hours." Under UMS, the instructions would simply read "take one pill in the morning."

"Given that the percentage of Americans taking five or more prescriptions has almost doubled over the past decade and that about 40% of older adults use at least five medications, it is imperative that the industry act quickly to implement the UMS into their operations and practices to make it easier for patients to take medications appropriately, safely and as directed," Stember said.

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Coalition forms to take on PBM auditing practices

BY Alaric DeArment

WASHINGTON — A nonprofit pharmacy advocacy group has launched a new project that it said was aimed at ensuring fair audit standards for prescription drug claims paid under the Medicare Part D program and protecting pharmacies and patients from what it called unfair audit and conduct practices by pharmacy benefit managers.

The group, Pharmacy Choice and Access Now also called for federal laws to address what it called inconsistent and nontransparent reimbursement rates and tackle the problem of alleged improper use of patient information. The PBM Reform Coalition will lobby legislators, the public and media on behalf of the issue. The coalition includes PCAN, the National Association of Chain Drug Stores, the National Community Pharmacists Association, H-E-B, Walgreens, PharMerica, Omnicare and GeriMed. As part of its launch, the coalition expressed support for Senate Bill 867, the Medicare Prescription Drug Program Integrity and Transparency Act, which would mandate PBM audit standards, ensure transparency of payment methodology to pharmacies and require that recoupment of money through audits is returned to Medicare.

"Without sufficient regulation or oversight, some PBMs have been largely playing by their own rules, engaging in questionable business practices that are hurting taxpayers as well as patients and their pharmacies, and it’s time for this to stop" coalition spokesman and Texas pharmacist Dennis Wiesner said. "We look forward to working with policymakers and others to advance appropriate reform measures that establish standards that protect all parties — measures that keep healthcare costs down, preserve patient choice and allow pharmacies to remain focused on their number-one priority — providing accessible quality health care to their patients."

 

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General Mills outlines new products during annual investor meeting

BY Jason Owen

NEW YORK — Today, General Mills executives shared the company’s new product innovation plans during General Mills’ annual investor meeting at the New York Stock Exchange.

"Product innovation is the fuel that creates category growth," said Ken Powell, chairman and CEO of General Mills. "We have a robust new product plan, with more than 200 new items being introduced worldwide in the first half of the year alone."

New products from General Mills have already begun flowing into the global marketplace this summer, such as Vanilla Chex cereal and Nature Valley Soft-Baked Oatmeal Squares in the United States, Liberte Greek yogurt in the United Kingdom, Yoki Kit Facil convenient dinner kits in Brazil and pint-sized Haagen-Dazs Secret Sensations ice cream in Europe.

U.S. consumers can expect a wide array of new product innovations on store shelves over the coming year. To view a slideshow of the new products, visit General Mills’ website.

The new products include offerings for consumers on-the-go, fast-cooking meals at home, gluten-free and on-the-go breakfast options. Some of the new products include:

  • Nature Valley Protein Granola cereal;
  • Nature Valley Greek Yogurt Protein bars;
  • Fiber One Protein Peanut Butter bars;
  • Ultimate Helper premium dinner kits;
  • Old El Paso Mexican Cooking Sauces, Old El Paso Frozen Entrees and Old El Paso Stand ‘N Stuff Soft Flour Tortillas;
  • Betty Crocker and Hershey fans will get to experience a new line of cookie mixes, cupcake mixes and frostings, including Hershey’s, Reese’s and Almond Joy. These products roll out nationally in the United States in July;
  • Betty Crocker Caramel Brownie, available exclusively at convenience stores in the United States;
  • gluten-free Vanilla Chex cereal;
  • Betty Crocker gluten-free sugar cookie mix and gluten-free all-purpose rice flour blend;
  • Larabar uber bars in Baklava, Sticky Bun and Coconut Macaroon flavors;
  • BFAST, a shelf-stable, drinkable breakfast shake;
  • Green Giant Roasted Veggie Tortilla Chips in a Garden Ranch variety and Green Giant Multigrain Sweet Potato Chips in a barbecue variety;
  • Hershey’s Cookies ‘n’ Creme cereal; and
  • Mott’s Strawberry Apple Fruit Flavored Snacks.

 


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