PHARMACY

URAC unveils new accrediting standards for mail, specialty, PBM pharmacy practice

BY Jim Frederick

WASHINGTON Three new pharmacy accreditation programs for specialty, mail service and managed-care pharmacy programs have been unveiled by one of the nation’s primary health care credentialing services.

URAC, originally an acronym for Utilization Review Accreditation Commission, is calling for public comment on the three new sets of operating and professional standards for pharmacy practitioners. The new review and accreditation programs are designed for three pharmacy practice sites: Specialty Pharmacy, Mail Service Pharmacy and Pharmacy Benefit Management for Workers Compensation and Property and Casualty.

“We welcome and invite broad input from consumers, purchasers, providers, regulators, and the industry on the draft standards,” said Alan Spielman, URAC’s president and chief executive officer.

URAC is seeking comments from a broad range of stakeholders, including employers, consumers, purchasers, providers, regulators, and the PBM industry. The deadline for public comment is March 6, 2008.

The standards were developed by URAC’s broad-based Pharmacy Benefits Management Advisory Committee, which includes employers, consumers, pharmacy consultants, health plans, independent retail pharmacy, PBMs, pharmacy professional organizations, labor, and large public purchasing groups.

“URAC accreditation standards for these organizations will provide common definitions and a uniform approach they can use to demonstrate value,” said Robert Crocker, chairman of URAC’s Board of Directors and chief medical officer for American Specialty Health. “The standards drive organizations towards best practices and ensure that patient safety, consumer education and empowerment are central to their operations.”

The draft standards are available for review at www.urac.org.

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PHARMACY

Harvard program seeks to discourage doctors from prescribing pediatric antibiotics

BY Drew Buono

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. A program was conducted at the Harvard Medical School in an effort to change doctors’ prescribing habits for antibiotics and to educate parents of small children about the proper use of antibiotics, according to Reuters.

The program was initiated because of the emergence of microbes that are resistant to antibiotics because doctors prescribed the medications when they weren’t really needed.

Harvard Medical School’s Jonathan Finkelstein and colleagues conducted the program in 16 Massachusetts communities between 1988 and 2003. Finkelstein’s team measured changes in antibiotic prescribing rates among three groups of children: 3 to 24 months, 24 to 48 months, and 48 to 72 months.

By the end of the study, the intervention had not changed the rate of antibiotic use in the youngest group, but for children between 24 and 48 months, the rates decreased by 4.2 percent and for the oldest children, the rates decreased by 6.7 percent.

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Patent office rejects Gilead patents for Viread

BY Drew Buono

WASHINGTON The Patent and Trademark Office has tentatively rejected four patents for Gilead Sciences’ HIV drug Viread, according to published reports.

The Public Patent Foundation filed a petition in March seeking to revoke the patents for the drug because they felt the drug should never have been patented in the first place, as the technology used to make the drug had been previously disclosed publicly.

The PTO is now re-examining the patents. Industry experts have said that it is common for the federal agency to tentatively rule patents invalid after having been asked by a third party to re-examine them. What would be unlikely would be the patents being permanently revoked, which has only occurred about 10 percent of the time.

Gilead sells Viread under that name and in combination with other drugs as Truvada and Atripla. Taken together, the three HIV treatments generated $3.1 billion in sales last year, according to the company.

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