PHARMACY

Take Care Health Systems’ treatment of pharyngitis, upper respiratory infections exceeds national quality benchmarks

BY Antoinette Alexander

CONSHOHOCKEN, Pa. Take Care Health Systems, which is owned by Walgreens, announced on Monday that treatment of pharyngitis and upper respiratory infections at its clinics exceed national quality benchmarks, according to an analysis of data collected through its EMR system by the Jefferson School of Population Health.

The results recently were published in the American Journal of Medical Quality. Data for the analysis were collected between Oct. 1, 2006 and Sept. 30, 2008. During this period, Take Care Health Systems opened more than 200 clinics across the United States.

The analysis focused on the treatment of two of the most common acute illness in children: pharyngitis (inflammation of the throat) and URIs.

Treatment of these conditions at Take Care was measured against National Center for Quality Assurance Health Effectiveness Data and Information Set guidelines. These guidelines are used by more than 90% of America’s health plans to measure performance on care and service.

Researchers found that Take Care Health professionals treating children met HEDIS guidelines in nearly 93% of pharyngitis visits and more than 88% in URI visits. This can be compared with the average rates for guideline adherence in the overarching healthcare community of 74.7% for pharyngitis and 83.5% for URIs. Researchers also noted that Take Care Health professionals demonstrated a patient-centric focus on quality exhibited by patient follow-up protocols. All patients who have a sick visit to a Take Care Clinic receive a follow-up call from a Take Care Health professional within 48 hours of their clinic visit.

"Walgreens is continuing to build, develop and invest in models of care that have the ability to increase healthcare access for patients while lowering costs," stated Hal Rosenbluth, SVP at Walgreens and president of Walgreens’ health and wellness division. "Continued evidence that innovations like retail clinics can truly create the best possible outcomes while mitigating upward trends in healthcare spending encourages ongoing collaboration with the healthcare community, further evolving the way patients in this country seek and receive healthcare services."

Furthermore, the study published in the American Journal of Medical Quality, in conjunction with previously published research, continues to statistically demonstrate that providers at clinics located inside or near retail pharmacies prescribe antibiotics meeting and exceeding national benchmarks. Clinical protocol for pharyngitis and URIs specifically note that healthcare professionals should not prescribe or dispense an antibiotic as part of a treatment plan unless clear indications of a bacterial infection are present.

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PHARMACY

Walmart, Humana unveil new Medicare Part D prescription drug offering

BY Mike Troy

BENTONVILLE , Ark. (Oct. 1) Walmart and Humana on Friday unveiled a new Medicare Part D prescription drug offering designed to help both companies gain market share and save money for those enrolled in the program.

Co-branded as the Humana Walmart-Preferred Rx Plan, the program involves a $14.80 monthly premium that is less than half the weighted 2010 national average, generic drug co-payments as low as $2 at Walmart pharmacies and no co-payments for select generics filled via Humana’s RightSource home-delivery service. Humana and Walmart said the program has the potential to save Medicare Part D enrollees as much as $450 annually.

“People are more likely to take the medications prescribed for them when they can afford those medications,” said William Fleming, PharmD, VP Humana Pharmacy Solutions. “And adhering to prescription-drug regimens can enable people to be healthier and prevent future illness. At Humana, we believe that this prevention helps people live healthier lives and achieve lifelong well-being.”

John Agwunobi, M.D., president of Walmart’s Health and Wellness division said Walmart is uniquely qualified to help lower the cost of prescriptions because it is the world’s largest retailer.

“We know every dollar counts, especially when you live on a fixed income. We believe no one should have to choose between buying their groceries or their medications,” Agwunobi said.

He called the program an example of Walmart’s commitment to help people save money so they can live better.

It is also an example of how Walmart can bring more shoppers to its store. There are an estimated 18 million people enrolled in the Medicare Part D program, but that figure is forecast to grow to 26 million by 2015. Open enrollment in the program begins Nov. 15 and continues through the end of the year, and Humana and Walmart are undertaking an extensive media relations and marketing campaign to drive awareness and education. A key element involves kiosks in some 3,000 stores which will occasionally be staffed by Humana representatives.

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Teva unveils mid-stage clinical trial results for MS drug

BY Alaric DeArment

JERUSALEM Teva Pharmaceutical Industries and Active Biotech announced promising results from a mid-stage trial of laquinimod, a once-daily oral treatment for relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis.

The companies released results of a phase-2 extension study of the drug indicating that it was safe for use in patients, but also reduced lesions that are a marker of disease activity by 52%. In addition, the study indicated that the drug reduced relapses of the disease and did not show evidence of suppression of the immune system. Results of the study were published online in the journal Multiple Sclerosis.

The two companies expect to see results of two phase-3 trials of the drug next year. The Food and Drug Administration gave fast-track designation to the drug in February 2009.

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