Walgreens, Ebony encourage Americans to be ‘Greater Than AIDS’
DEERFIELD, Ill. — Walgreens has teamed with Greater Than AIDS, a national campaign in response to HIV/AIDS in the United States, to distribute informational resources and specialized HIV-related services at more than 300 Walgreens pharmacies in heavily affected communities, the Kaiser Family Foundation announced Tuesday.
At these specialized pharmacy locations, Walgreens will have pharmacists on hand to offer one-on-one medication counseling and other support services that provide customers living with HIV/AIDS and their families with compassionate, confidential care. Free rapid oral HIV testing also will be available at select Walgreens locations from June 22 to 24 with technical support and guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and test kits from OraSure Technologies.
State and local health departments and community-based organizations in the local markets are conducting the tests and providing pre- and post-test counseling.
"Despite overwhelming evidence that early diagnosis and treatment play an important role both in the health of those who are positive and in reducing the spread of HIV, many Americans at highest risk for infection still have not been tested," stated Tina Hoff, SVP and director of health communication and media partnerships at the Kaiser Family Foundation, a co-founding partner of Greater Than AIDS. "The commitment by Walgreens to bring HIV information and testing into the pharmacy setting helps to reduce the stigma associated with HIV and make testing more accessible for those who may not have access to traditional healthcare settings."
Additionally, Ebony, a publication of Johnson Publishing Co., has partnered with Greater Than AIDS and Walgreens to produce a special "Be Greater Than AIDS" informational guide to be distributed in 1.6 million copies of the July issue of the magazine, reaching an estimated 11 million readers. One million additional copies of the guide, which includes information about HIV testing and tips for talking with partners and healthcare providers, will be distributed free in select Walgreens stores and by AIDS service organizations and other community groups. Ebony also supports Greater Than AIDS with ongoing public service announcement placements and special editorial content on HIV/AIDS.
A new national survey released Tuesday by the Kaiser Family Foundation indicated that Americans — and especially African-Americans, who are among those at highest risk for HIV — want to know more about HIV testing, including who should get tested (42% overall, 63% of African-Americans) and where to go to get tested (38% overall, 58% of African-Americans).
"Access to testing, education and care are critical when it comes to the treatment and prevention of this complex condition," said Walgreens manager of specialized disease state programs Glen Pietrandoni. "This month marks 30 years since the first case of AIDS, and ever since, Walgreens has been a trusted resource. As a pharmacy focused on meeting our customers’ health and daily living needs, Walgreens is committed to providing services and support in communities highly impacted by HIV."
According to the CDC, more than 1 million Americans are living with HIV today, yet 1-in-5 of those infected don’t know their status. And one-third are diagnosed so late in the course of their infection that they develop AIDS within one year.
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New bill aims to help independent pharmacies to band together, negotiate prices for Rxs
KINGSTON, Pa. — Rep. Tom Marino, R-Pa., on Monday propositioned a bill that would allow independent drug stores to band together in an effort to increase their collective pharmaceutical buying power.
“It’s not a level playing field,” Marino asserted as he announced the introduction of HR 1946, the Preserving Our Hometown Independent Pharmacies Act. “This bill sets out to level that playing field, that’s all,” he said. “It would not cost the federal government or anyone else a penny. As a matter of fact, it would actually lower the prices for independent pharmacies, … and they, in turn, would pass it on to the consumer.”
The bill would amend antitrust law to allow independent pharmacies to band together and negotiate prices for prescription medicine. It also would give them more leverage when they negotiate reimbursement rates with insurance companies and pharmacy benefit managers.
“This vital legislation will help … local pharmacists and small business owners by making three important changes,” stated Douglas Hoey, EVP and CEO of the National Community Pharmacists Association, which supports the bill. “First, it levels the playing field for independent community pharmacies negotiating contracts with billion-dollar corporations, giving them leverage similar to those of large, national pharmacy chains; second, it allows millions of Americans to enjoy the fruits of greater competition and choice of pharmacy, including independent community pharmacies; and third, it supports local jobs, tax revenue and small businesses by keeping in the community healthcare dollars that could otherwise be siphoned out of state by large corporations.”
Hoey pointed to the kind of negotiating clout Walgreens wielded on Tuesday in its decision to discontinue talks with pharmacy benefit manager Express Scripts. Losing almost 8,000 points of service carries greater consequences than losing a handful of participating pharmacies. “For years, small pharmacies have had to endure one-sided, take-it-or-leave-it contracts that can disadvantage community pharmacists with onerous contract terms while impeding true competition for consumers,” Hoey said. “By contrast, large pharmacy chains have a greater ability to negotiate contracts, as evidenced by Walgreens’ recent decision to opt out of the network of Express Scripts.”
Lawmakers who have signed on as co-sponsors include Reps. Lou Barletta, R-Pa.; Howard Coble, R-N.C.; Renee Ellmers, R-N.C.; Jeff Fortenberry, R-Neb.; Louie Gohmert, R-Texas; and Ron Paul, R-Texas.
On Monday, Rep. Marino said he has experienced the personal service offered by neighborhood pharmacies. The congressman is a two-time cancer survivor, and his 16-year-old daughter, Chloe, has cystic fibrosis. “My daughter takes a great deal of medication on a daily basis,” Marino said. “My pharmacist is always there. He knows us on a first-name basis. There have been situations when we have gone away and either forgotten or ran out of a prescription. We just call our pharmacist, he makes the arrangements and we are taken care of wherever we are.”
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Mark Fitch, Jeff Nornhold join Impax
HAYWARD, Calif. — Impax Labs has expanded its senior management team with two appointments.
The generic drug maker said that Mark Fitch has joined the company as SVP operations, while Jeff Nornhold will become SVP quality affairs. Fitch, who joins Impax from Nycomed US, brings more than 35 years of pharmaceutical experience to his role. Nornhold, who most recently served as VP quality operations at drug maker Watson, is a 20-year pharmaceutical industry veteran.
Both Fitch and Nornhold will report to Impax president and CEO Larry Hsu.
“We are very pleased that Mark and Jeff have joined Impax to oversee these two very critical areas of our business,” Hsu said. “They are accomplished executives with a strong track record and extensive pharmaceutical and business leadership experience. We have experienced significant growth in the past several years, and their addition further enhances our management team.”
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