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Walgreens names new general counsel

BY Michael Johnsen

DEERFIELD, Ill. — Walgreens on Monday named Thomas Sabatino Jr. EVP, general counsel and corporate secretary, effective Sept. 12.

Sabatino replaces Dana Green, who is retiring after 37 years with the company, Walgreens stated.

"The clear legal counsel and advice, as well as strong ethical foundation and support for team members that Dana provided to the company throughout her career contributed greatly to Walgreens’ growth and success during each year she was with the company," stated Walgreens president and CEO Greg Wasson. "Each member of the management team at Walgreens can thank her for the guidance and support she provided to them at some point in their career. All of us in the Walgreens family wish Dana and her family the best in her retirement."

Green, 61, joined the company in 1974 as an attorney in employee relations. She became director of that department before being promoted to divisional VP employee relations in 1998. She was named corporate VP human resources in 2000 and promoted to SVP, general counsel and corporate secretary in 2004. In 2010, she was named an EVP.

Sabatino, 52, joins Walgreens having held general counsel roles with United Airlines, Schering-Plough, Baxter International and American Medical International. "With each of these companies, Thomas acted as a close adviser to the CEO on central issues each organization faced," Wasson said. "His extensive background in health care and extraordinary legal experience make him a perfect fit for the organization as we move forward with our core strategies."

After beginning his career with a law firm and then moving into corporate law, Sabatino was named president and CEO in 1990 of privately held medical products manufacturer and distributor Secure Medical. In 1992, he joined American Medical International, a Dallas-based for-profit hospital chain with 40 acute care hospitals. Three years later he joined Baxter International and was named SVP and general counsel for the company in 1997.

Sabatino moved to Schering-Plough in 2004 as EVP and general counsel for global law and public affairs. He left Schering-Plough in November 2009 after its merger with Merck. In March 2010, he was appointed general counsel of United Airlines and immediately took a leading role in its merger negotiations with Continental Airlines. He departed United Continental Holdings earlier this year after completion of the merger.

Sabatino earned a bachelor of arts degree from Wesleyan University in 1980 and his law degree from the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia in 1983. He is a member of the bar in Massachusetts, Illinois, California and New Jersey. He serves on the board of directors and the executive committee of the Association of Corporate Counsel; is a member of the leadership board of the U.S. Chamber Global Intellectual Property Council; and is on the general counsel committee of the American Bar Association.

His current charitable affiliations include the board of directors of both Trinitas Regional Medical Center in Elizabeth, N.J., and the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America.

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Simplify My Meds — a new NCPA tool to drive compliance, increase scripts

BY Michael Johnsen

ALEXANDRIA, Va. — The National Community Pharmacists Association on Monday launched Simplify My Meds, an innovative adherence program that provides pharmacists with the tools to help coordinate patients’ prescription refills to a single day of the month, for its independent community pharmacy members.

The new model facilitates a more comprehensive and coordinated level of pharmacy care, reduces the potential for gaps in therapy and promotes improved medication adherence, the NCPA stated.

"Instead of wringing our hands about disappointing patient medication adherence rates that continue to hover around 50%, NCPA is proactively addressing this challenge by using what has worked and making it scalable for all community pharmacies,” stated Douglas Hoey, NCPA EVP and CEO.

Research has confirmed the role that community pharmacists play in providing patients with the assistance necessary to maintain high levels of medication adherence. In particular, refill coordination at a single pharmacy is recognized as an effective tactic to improve adherence, the NCPA noted.

The key difference between Simplify My Meds and other auto-refill programs is the high-touch, personalized patient consultations each month. This “mini medication reconciliation” process is a cornerstone of the program and allows the pharmacist to identify any recent hospitalizations, especially those that may have resulted in changes in therapy, such as new medications or dosage adjustments.

Independent community pharmacies that have previously employed this practice also have seen tangible, positive results for their business, the NCPA added. By coordinating exactly what day patient refills occur, the independent pharmacy staff’s workload is streamlined, making daily workloads more predictable and reducing labor costs. Data analyzed from pharmacies using this model has shown as much as a 30% increase in prescription volume, a 50% decrease in labor costs and $1.87 per script increase in gross margin.

“The healthcare paradigm is shifting to more patient-centered, comprehensive and efficient services," Hoey said. "With the movement toward the accountable care organizations concept and patient-centered medical homes, and especially during transitions of care, appropriate medication management is central to successful outcomes," he added. "Engaging in adherence practices is an important way for community pharmacies to enhance their business, improve patient care and demonstrate to decision-makers — in both the public and private sector — that we can help achieve better care, better outcomes [and] lower costs, at a better value to the healthcare system.”

Participating pharmacies will receive a detailed operations manual, access to training and help desk support, as well as a marketing kit to help make patients and health plan sponsors aware of the program’s value and convenience.

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Needle disposal solution offered exclusively at Walgreens

BY Michael Johnsen

HOUSTON — Sharps Compliance on Monday announced that Walgreens will be the exclusive retailer for the company’s Complete Needle Collection & Disposal System.

"When it comes to patient care and safety, this innovative disposal alternative can help provide a convenient option for patients," stated Suzanne Hansen, Walgreens group VP pharmacy operations. "Customers often ask about what to do with these types of needles, and now our pharmacists have another option to discuss with patients."

"We estimate that there are approximately 10 million people in the United States that legally self-inject medications," stated David Tusa, president and CEO of Sharps Compliance. "Additionally, the vast majority of those needles are improperly handled and end up in our solid waste stream and landfills through regular solid waste pickup or flushing. … This system also addresses concerns regarding the exposure of family members and others to the risk of an accidental needle-stick."

Complete Needle provides an individual self-injector with a containment solution designed to protect self-injectors and their family members, and includes an optional disposal feature utilizing the U.S. Postal Service designed to protect the individual’s community, solid waste workers and the environment.

Walgreens’ exclusivity expires after December, Sharps reported.

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