PHARMACY

Walgreens research: 90 day at retail generates cost savings and does not increase wastage

BY Michael Johnsen

DEERFIELD, Ill. — A new Walgreens study examining the impact of 90-day medication refills at community pharmacies compared to 30-day refills for Medicaid patients found that across four therapeutic categories, patients with 90-day refills had greater medication adherence and greater persistency, nominal wastage and more cost savings. The study, titled "Medication Days’ Supply, Adherence, Wastage and Cost Among Chronic Patients in Medicaid," was published in Medicare & Medicaid Research Review and released Wednesday.

“Our 90-day refill program at our community pharmacies is an innovative healthcare solution that can help lower costs and improve patient outcomes, and another way in which Walgreens is advancing community pharmacy to help people get, stay and live well,” stated Jeffrey Kang, Walgreens SVP pharmacy, health and wellness services and solutions. “At the time of our study, only 13 states gave Medicaid patients the option to receive a 90-day medication supply. However, with the growing popularity and adoption of 90-day refills at community pharmacies, more and more Medicaid patients have an opportunity to benefit from face-to-face pharmacist interaction and the personalized care our pharmacists provide. Both patients and the healthcare system could benefit from reexamination of these broad state dispensing limitations.”

Compared to 30-day refills, patients with 90-day refills at community pharmacies had 20% higher adherence levels and 23% higher persistency rates. A projected savings of $13.95 per patient per year was tabulated, not including wastage costs, and adjusting for the effects of age, gender and comorbidity. 

The study’s release comes as states throughout the U.S. have aimed to contain Medicaid pharmacy costs by placing dispensing limits on medication days’ supply (most have a limit of 34 days), in an effort to limit medication wastage. The results demonstrate that wastage can be nominal across the 30-day and 90-day channels, and that three-month fills at community pharmacies have the potential to significantly improve outcomes and lower costs among Medicaid patients. Many of these patients include those with chronic conditions who often face major socioeconomic challenges affecting their ability to remain adherent to medication therapies. Notably, almost half (45%) of Medicaid beneficiaries have three or more chronic illnesses, and this population accounts for 75% of total Medicare costs, Walgreens reported. 

For the study, 52,898 patients prescribed to statin, antihypertensive, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor or oral hypoglycemic medications were identified using California Medicaid claims from the Walgreens pharmacy chain in January 2010. Adherence is a measurement of how often patients take their medications as prescribed, and persistency is the length of time patients continue taking their medications. Medication wastage is defined as a switch of drug or drug strength within the same therapeutic class that occurred before the expected refill date.

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PHARMACY

FDA approves Pfizer rheumatoid arthritis drug

BY Alaric DeArment

SILVER SPRING, Md. — The Food and Drug Administration has approved a drug for rheumatoid arthritis ahead of the day the agency was scheduled to decide whether or not to approve it, the agency said Tuesday.

The FDA announced the approval of Pfizer’s Xeljans (tofacitinib) for adults with moderately to severely active RA who have responded inadequately or can’t tolerate methotrexate, a commonly used generic drug for the disease. The FDA had been scheduled to decide whether or not to approve the drug on Nov. 21. RA affects about 1.5 million Americans, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"Xeljanz provides a new treatment option for adults suffering from the debilitating disease of RA who have had a poor response to methotrexate," FDA Division of Pulmonary, Allergy and Rheumatology Products director Badrul Chowdhury said.


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PHARMACY

Pharmacy gains as preferred flu shot venue

BY DSN STAFF

One important finding from a recent online survey of more than 900 AccentHealth viewers conducted in September confirmed that more patients continue to embrace the community pharmacy as a preferred destination for flu vaccinations. Nearly 1-in-4 said they have received or plan to receive a flu shot this year in a retail pharmacy setting — up four percentage points from a year ago.

To see more Patient Views, click here.

Patient Views is an exclusive consumer insights feature that appears in every edition of DSN A.M., and every issue of DSN magazine. If you could ask 4,000 patients anything at all, what would it be? Send your questions to [email protected].

 

Source: AccentHealth. To view the demographic breakdown of participants, click here.

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