PHARMACY

Walgreens collaborates with NMAC in expanding pneumococcal vaccine reach across HIV patients

BY Michael Johnsen

DEERFIELD, Ill. — In collaboration with the National Minority AIDS Council, Walgreens is furthering its commitment to improve HIV treatment outcomes for African Americans living with HIV by deepening pharmacists’ training and expanding access to the pneumococcal vaccination specifically indicated for persons living with HIV as incidents of flu and pneumonia rise, the retailer announced Tuesday.

Pneumococcal disease can spread from a sneeze or cough and can cause significant or life threatening infection for those with chronic illnesses. People living with HIV are at a higher risk of pneumococcal disease — 35 times greater than someone unaffected by HIV at a similar age. African-Americans are at an even greater risk as nearly half of all new HIV infections are within the population, and African-Americans have the lowest seasonal vaccination rate at 40%.

Pneumococcal vaccinations specifically indicated for persons living with HIV are available at all Walgreens HIV-specialized pharmacies to help meet preventive care needs of African-Americans living with HIV. Walgreens specially trained pharmacists are working closely with physicians to understand patient needs and deliver individualized, comprehensive care, including vaccine administration.

“We understand that African-Americans are disproportionately affected by HIV and can be heavily impacted during the cold and flu season when pneumonia may be more prevalent,” stated Glen Pietrandoni, Walgreens director of specialty products and services, virology. “In addition to stocking our HIV-specialized pharmacies with the CDC-recommended vaccine, we have provided additional pharmacist training so that each of our more than 2,000 HIV-specialized pharmacists is prepared to provide both seasonal and general wellness consultations and administer this vitally important vaccination.”

With HIV-specialized pharmacies accessible to nearly 90% of the U.S. HIV population, Walgreens is uniquely positioned to help decrease vaccine preventable diseases in HIV-positive populations that were previously difficult-to-reach and often live in medically underserved areas.

“It is especially critical that people living with HIV remain vigilant not only about managing the virus, but also protecting their overall health,” said Kim Johnson, NMAC director of community advancement and leadership strategies. “With cold, flu and pneumonia rampant, the importance of protecting already compromised immune systems is even more pronounced. This means getting vaccinated, eating well and regularly washing your hands. NMAC is pleased to partner with Walgreens to encourage minority communities to safeguard their health by promoting and expanding access to critical preventive health services.”

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GPhA supports Georgia interchangeable biologics bill

BY Michael Johnsen

WASHINGTON — The Generic Pharmaceutical Association on Tuesday announced its support of Georgia SB 370, introduced by pharmacist and Sen. Buddy Carter, R-Ga. District 1,  because it will allow unimpeded patient access to interchangeable biologics. The bill mirrors current pharmacy practice for interchangeable generic substitution language, and is aligned with Food and Drug Administration definitions, the association noted.

“While there is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ model for states, one can look to the law enacted in Florida, and now, the bill under discussion in Georgia,” stated Ralph Neas, president and CEO of GPhA. “GPhA applauds efforts in Georgia to foster timely access to interchangeable biologics. This bill takes appropriate steps to limit roadblocks to these medicines and avoids unneeded mandates for notifying physicians that extend beyond current practice. The proposed bill in Georgia preserves the intent of the Biologics Price Competition and Innovation Act — an approach backed by science and precedent," he said. 

“As the promise of biosimilars becomes reality in the U.S., state legislatures are a key piece of the regulatory roadmap. At the same time, FDA guidance and international naming conventions must align so that the safety and efficacy of these medicines is not undermined and patient access remains timely."

 

 

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PBMI’s Specialty Drug Benefit Report benchmarks specialty pharmacy trends

BY Michael Johnsen

PLANO, Texas — The Pharmacy Benefit Management Institute recently released its Specialty Drug Benefit Report, sponsored by Walgreens Specialty Pharmacy. The 2014 edition highlights trends important to specialty pharmacy, including emerging cost-control strategies and challenges affecting benefit design and patient care. 

"I was struck by the results on employer perceptions of pharmacy outlets for specialty drugs," noted Adam Fein, president Pembroke Consulting, in a Drug Channels blog on the release. "Employers think specialty pharmacies provide better pharmacist access and lower costs. However, they also think retail pharmacies are comparable for clinical services — and that surprised me."

Retail drug stores are also seen as better at providing access to copayment programs, Fein noted. 

The report is based on survey respondents from 337 U.S. employers, representing more than 14.3 million lives. For the first time, the survey asked questions specifically about medical and pharmacy benefits, including key opportunities and challenges facing specialty pharmacy management. This is important because it reflects rapidly changing site-of-care dynamics and will better enable PBMI to assess and report on future trends.

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