PHARMACY

Survey: Most osteoporosis patients prefer non-pill treatments

BY Alaric DeArment

SAN ANTONIO — Nearly three-quarters of osteoporosis patients prefer to take their medication in a form other than an oral solid, according to a new survey.

The survey was sponsored by drug maker Mission Pharmacal and conducted by Inspire, a company that develops health and wellness communities for patients and caregivers, using patients drawn from the online support community of the National Osteoporosis Foundation. It found that 74% prefer their medication in a form other than a capsule or tablet. Mission Pharmacal is the manufacturer of the drug Binosto, a water-dissolvable tablet that delivers the drug alendronate sodium as a strawberry-flavored fizzy solution.

The company said the purpose of the survey was to raise awareness of osteoporosis and encourage people to talk to their doctors about treatment options, and it showed that most patients with the condition want a choice in the medication they take.

"The results of this survey show that patients are interested in options," said Robert Recker, director of the Osteoporosis Research Center at Creighton University in Omaha, Neb. "We take medication compliance very seriously because we know it can result in fewer fractures with osteoporosis."

 

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NACDS: Research article supports MTM eligibility criteria reform for seniors

BY Antoinette Alexander

ARLINGTON, Va. — Reform of eligibility criteria for MTM services would improve access to care for seniors and boost medication adherence, according to an article co-authored by Laura Miller, senior economist with the National Association of Chain Drug Stores.

The article — titled “Should Eligibility for Medication Therapy Management be Based on Drug Adherence?” — is in the January 2014 Journal of Managed Care Pharmacy.

The article bolsters support for MTM as a key to better and more affordable health care, and backs reform of eligibility criteria to make MTM available to more Medicare beneficiaries. According to the article, MTM services would reach more patients with a history of not taking their medications correctly if eligibility requirements were changed to include Medicare Part D beneficiaries who take two prescription drugs. Currently, patients must take eight prescription medications to be eligible for MTM services under most Part D plans.

“Our findings suggest that current MTM eligibility criteria are not optimally targeted to capture underuse of and poor adherence to evidence-based medications for prevalent chronic diseases in the elderly,” the article concludes.

This latest article supplements a growing body of evidence that improving medication adherence — including use of MTM to help patients take medications as prescribed — helps to enhance patient health and improve healthcare affordability. Reports by the Congressional Budget Office and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, as well as articles in Health Affairs and the Journal of American Pharmacists, offer further support that appropriate medication use can improve health while lowering costs.

The increasing focus on MTM also has included action in the legislative and executive branches of government, with initiatives underway to refine eligibility criteria for MTM within Medicare.

Bipartisan support continues to grow for the proposed Medication Therapy Management Empowerment Act of 2013 (H.R. 1024 and S. 557). The legislation enjoys the co-sponsorship of 159 members of the U.S. House of Representatives and 30 members of the U.S. Senate — more than 35% of the Congress, NACDS stated. In addition, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services projects that MTM eligibility changes included in its Medicare Part D proposed rule published last week could increase the number of eligible beneficiaries from 2.5 million to 18 million.

“These efforts by Congress and the Administration to improve access to MTM are good public policy and wise strategies for improving the quality and cost-effectiveness of public health,” said NACDS president and CEO Steve Anderson. “Pharmacists are widely trusted healthcare professionals with extensive education. They are trained medication specialists who work collaboratively with physicians and with other healthcare professionals to help patients use medicines safely and stay healthy.”

 

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Walgreens donates 3 million vaccines in partnership with the UN Foundation’s [email protected] campaign

BY Michael Johnsen

DEERFIELD, Ill. — Walgreens on Wednesday announced it is donating the value of 3 million vaccines for children in developing countries upon successful completion of its immunizations campaign developed in partnership with the UN Foundation’s [email protected] campaign.

Walgreens pledged to donate the value of one vaccine through [email protected] for each immunization the company administered from Sept. 4 through Oct. 14, with a goal to reach three million vaccines to benefit children in developing countries by protecting them against such diseases as measles and polio. 

“We’re proud to have been a part of the [email protected] campaign with the UN Foundation, and I want to thank our customers who came in for flu shots and vaccines,” said Kermit Crawford, Walgreens president of pharmacy, health and wellness. “This program is a great example of how large organizations and individuals can come together to improve the delivery of preventive care. At Walgreens, we’re very pleased to help these vaccines get to the children who need them.” 

“By expanding access to vaccines, we have the ability to save a child’s life every 20 seconds from a preventable life-threatening disease, like measles, pneumonia, diarrhea and polio,” said Kathy Calvin, president and CEO of the United Nations Foundation. “Working in partnership with Walgreens, we raised awareness among its loyal customers of the importance of vaccines for the health of children in developing countries, and together with our United Nations partners we have given three million children around the world an opportunity at a healthy life.”

[email protected] statistics show 1-in-5 children worldwide lack access to life-saving immunizations, and a child dies every 20 seconds from a vaccine-preventable disease.

In the United States, Walgreens is in its fourth year of a flu shot voucher program developed in conjunction with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, through which one million vouchers have now been distributed. This season, Walgreens distributed more than 400,000 flu shot vouchers to Americans without health insurance or coverage for a flu shot, providing free access to individuals and families in need. HHS assisted in the voucher program effort in markets across the country.

“Since this innovative partnership began in 2010, hundreds of thousands of uninsured men, women and children have accessed vouchers and received free flu shots,” said HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. “In the face of persistent disparities in influenza vaccination coverage — especially among adults — this initiative is a promising example of how we are working with partners to expand access to important preventive services for our most vulnerable and underserved communities.”

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