PHARMACY

Study: Amphetamine use could pose Parkinson’s disease risk

BY Alaric DeArment

ST. PAUL, Minn. — Use of amphetamines could increase the risk of Parkinson’s disease, according to a new study.

The study, supported by Kaiser Permanente and scheduled for presentation at the American Academy of Neurology’s annual meeting in Honolulu this April, found that people who have used such drugs as GlaxoSmithKline’s Benzedrine (amphetamine sulfate) and Dexedrine (dextroamphetamine sulfate) have an increased risk of developing the disease. The drugs often are prescribed for patients with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and narcolepsy.

The study included 66,348 people in northern California who had participated in the Multiphasic Checkup Cohort Exam between 1964 and 1973 and were evaluated again in 1995. More than 1,100 patients had been diagnosed with Parkinson’s by the end of the study.

The researchers found that people who had reported using Benzedrine or Dexedrine were almost 60% more likely to develop Parkinson’s than those who didn’t take them, though there was no increased risk found for those people who had used drugs for weight loss.

“If further studies confirm these findings, the potential risk of developing Parkinson’s disease from these types of amphetamines would need to be considered by doctors before prescribing these drugs, as well as be incorporated into amphetamine abuse programs, including illicit use,” study author Stephen Van Den Eeden of Kaiser Permanente’s division of research said.

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Health Mart recognized as a J.D. Power 2011 Customer Service Champion

BY Michael Johnsen

SAN FRANCISCO — Health Mart, McKesson’s network of more than 2,700 independently owned pharmacies, on Tuesday announced that the franchise was recognized in the J.D. Power "2011 Customer Service Champions" report.

To identify the J.D. Power 2011 Customer Service Champions, J.D. Power evaluated more than 800 brands. Companies were identified based on customer feedback, opinions and perceptions gathered primarily from J.D. Power’s syndicated research, as well as additional supplemental research. Among the five key customer “touch points” measured — including people, presentation, process, product and price — Health Mart was noted for standing out in the “presentation” and “process” categories.

“We are honored to be recognized by J.D. Power and Associates for excellence in customer service,” stated Tim Canning, Health Mart president. “Health Mart pharmacists pride themselves on getting to know their patients and communities, and delivering high-quality personalized care, so it is particularly gratifying to be identified as an industry leader focused on service and customer satisfaction. Health Mart provides independent pharmacists with robust solutions and services that enable them to focus on being a valuable member of the patient’s healthcare team.”

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N.J. governor: Changing Medicaid Rx will help save $41 million

BY Allison Cerra

WASHINGTON — A group representing the nation’s pharmacy benefit managers is responding to a proposal made by New Jersey governor Chris Christie that seeks to modernize the state’s Medicaid program.

Christie said the proposed overhaul, which includes managing prescription drug benefits similarly to those in Medicare and private-sector programs, would save the state $41 million, “while still providing vital services,” the governor said.

In response, the Pharmaceutical Care Management Association said that Gov. Christie’s proposal is "right," as many state Medicaid programs "pay too much for prescription drugs because they use an archaic, fee-for-service approach in which state officials set payment rates and are therefore constantly lobbied to inflate them by special interests."

“By administering Medicaid drug benefits like those in Medicare, New Jersey will save millions without cutting benefits to those in need," said PCMA president and CEO Mark Merritt. "Currently, the program uses fewer generic drugs and pays more than either Medicare or private insurers. It’s time to modernize New Jersey’s Medicaid drug benefits and bring costs more in line with those of other programs.”

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