PHARMACY

Study finds wide disparities in antibiotic prescribing rates between South, Midwest

BY Alaric DeArment

NEW YORK — Research has indicated that about half of antibiotic prescriptions are unnecessary, raising concerns about the growth of bacteria resistant to them, but a new study by researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also finds that prescriptions are highest in several states in the South and Midwest.

The study, published Thursday in the New England Journal of Medicine, was based on a database maintained by IMS Health that includes a sample of more than 70% of U.S. prescriptions.

The study found 258 million courses of antibiotics prescribed in 2010, or 833 prescriptions per 1,000 people. Prescribing rates in the South were 936 per 1,000 people, compared with 639 in the West.

The highest rates — ranging from 996 to 1,237 prescriptions per 1,000 people — were found in Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Arkansas, Tennessee, Kentucky and West Virginia, as well as the Midwestern states of Indiana and North Dakota. The lowest rates were found in Washington, Oregon, California, Alaska, Hawaii, Colorado, Vermont and New Hampshire.

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Reports: Alberta government to give pharmacists allowance in preparation for generic pricing changes

BY Alaric DeArment

NEW YORK — The government of Canada’s Alberta province will pay pharmacists C$1 for each prescription filled as part of a one-year transition program for which it will spend $24 million, according to published reports.

The Calgary, Alberta, Herald reported Wednesday that the program was designed to help pharmacists transition to a new business model. The newspaper also reported that provincial health minister Fred Horne said the province was "committed" to offering generic drugs to residents of the province for 18% of the cost of branded drugs, but that pharmacists had historically objected to efforts to lower generic drug prices.

Under provincial regulations, pharmacies buy drugs at a price, capped by the government, that suppliers can charge. Pharmacists are then reimbursed for the cost when prescriptions are filled and can charge the government a dispensing fee of $10.93 per prescription.

At the same time, many pharmacists have arranged volume deals, but the Herald reported that they said such deals, which provide an additional source of income, were under threat due to lowering of generic drug prices. The government plans to pay the current price for generic drugs until the end of May, the newspaper reported.

C$1 = 99 U.S. cents.

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QS/1 introduces ‘first of its kind’ Medicare Part B documentation system

BY Alaric DeArment

SPARTANBURG, S.C. — QS/1 has released Medicare Part B compliance documentation, which it said would be the first of its type on the market to help pharmacies that want to serve Part B customers while remaining compliant, the company said.

QS/1 said its Medicare Part B Compliance Documentation software system was the first of its kind, allowing pharmacies using NRx or PrimeCare Pharmacy Management Systems to serve Medicare Part B customer needs while keeping necessary documents in the event of an audit.

"Missing or incomplete documentation is the most common error that results in the repayment of claims," QS/1 market analyst Chris Kinard said. "Medicare Part B documentation for pharmacy gives you the audit compliance tools for Part B products and services."

During prescription processing, the prescription management system prompts the required Medicare documentation to print, allowing the patient to sign once for all required documentation using an electronic signature-capture device. In the event of an audit, all system-generated Medicare-required documentation can be regenerated with the patient signature and date signed.

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