PHARMACY

Walgreens launches health-and-wellness database from its Facebook page

BY Michael Johnsen

ATLANTA — Walgreens on Tuesday partnered with the online platform Sharecare on the launch of a new "Answers" application, which provides access to a comprehensive and searchable drug, supplement and wellness database on Facebook.

The application, which is integrated into Walgreens’ Facebook page, gives Walgreens nearly 2 million followers convenient access to an interactive portal containing health information and resources.

"With the success of our online health initiatives, such as the ability to chat live with a Walgreens pharmacist 24/7, this is yet another example of our commitment to innovation in the digital space that gives people greater access to Walgreens pharmacists and other clinical experts," Walgreens president of e-commerce Sona Chawla said. "Our relationship with Sharecare further extends our Answers promise beyond Walgreens retail locations, providing important healthcare information to customers online, through mobile applications and social media."

In addition to existing applications on the Walgreens Facebook page offering health advice and cost-saving tips, the Answers section provides seamless integration to Sharecare.com content for Walgreens followers. Answers features information related to a broad range of health topics, including prescription drugs, disease symptoms, at-home remedies and over-the-counter recommendations.

As part of its relationship with Sharecare, Walgreens pharmacists will provide answers to the thousands of frequently-asked health questions.


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PHARMACY

Taro shares to trade on NYSE

BY Alaric DeArment

HAWTHORNE, N.Y. — Taro Pharmaceutical Industries will list its shares on the New York Stock Exchange, the Israel-based generic drug maker said Monday.

Starting Thursday, shares of Taro will trade on the exchange under the ticker symbol "TARO" and will concurrently cease to trade on the over-the-counter Pink Sheet markets.

"We are very happy that Taro will soon be listed on the New York Stock Exchange," Taro chairman Dilip Shanghvi said. "This achievement is in line with what we indicated in the past, that Taro would seek re-listing on an exchange once the company is in compliance with its [Securities and Exchange Commission] filing commitments. We are pleased that over the past 18 months, Taro has completed its long-pending audited financial statements and attained full compliance with its SEC reporting obligations, both of which are prerequisites for listing."

Shares of Taro were at $35.36 Monday, down 3.12% from the previous closing price of $36.50.


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The gender gap in Rx adherence: Can pharmacists bridge the divide?

BY Jim Frederick

Powerful pharmacy benefit manager Medco Health Solutions has just unveiled the results of a large-scale study that points out the critical role that pharmacist interventions play in the health and safety of women.

The results of the research, jointly conducted by Medco and the Society for Women’s Health Research, came to light March 17 at Women’s Health 2012: The 20th Annual Congress. The study shows a wide and worrisome gender gap when it comes to how men and women adhere to their medication regimens.

Despite the fact that women of all ages use more drugs — an average of five compared with 3.7 for men — they’re less likely to adhere to their prescribed drug regimens, and aren’t “prescribed treatments in alignment with recommended guidelines as often as men,” according to Medco.

“Differences were most dramatic among patients with cardiovascular disease and diabetes,” noted researchers. “Men far surpassed women when it came to diabetic adherence to prescribed medications, monitoring and management tools.”

Women also fared significantly worse than men in adherence rates for cholesterol reducing drugs and other medicines used to manage cardiovascular disease, the No. 1 killer of women in the United States.

The gap in adherence rates “could be due to a variety of reasons,” according to Medco, “including adverse side effects, inability to tolerate the medication, or failure among women to see or feel improvements in their health.” But another culprit, noted researchers, could be the fact that women are often prescribed drugs in dosages appropriate to men but not women.

“It has long been demonstrated that there are physiological differences in women that affect their absorption and metabolism of medications,” noted Amy Steinkellner, PharmD, national practice leader for Medco Women’s Health Therapeutic Resource Center.

The research project wasn’t just an academic exercise; it points up real challenges for pharmacists, physicians and other professionals responsible for managing the health and wellness of millions of women. Among patients with cardiovascular disease and diabetes, Medco reported, “women showed poorer outcomes than men in 25 out of 25 clinical measures.”

That’s a striking piece of news, and it’s something every pharmacist should bear in mind as they dispense medicines and consult with their female patients. “It is critical to consider gender in every aspect of drug development and management, from research and reporting of results all the way through to a personalized medicine treatment plan,” said Steinkellner.

“We need to … commit to understanding all the factors that affect [women’s] adherence to medications for the long-term,” added Phyllis Greenberger, president and CEO of Society for Women’s Health Research.

If you’re a practicing pharmacist, resident or pharmacy student in rotations, we’d like to hear from you. Have you encountered situations in your interactions with women patients that hint at the challenges to medication adherence highlighted by Medco? Please share your thoughts and experiences below.
 

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