PHARMACY

Walgreens Specialty Pharmacy to participate in MS study

BY Allison Cerra

DEERFIELD, Ill. Walgreens Specialty Pharmacy, a subsidiary of Walgreens, was chosen to participate in the “Therapy Optimization in Multiple Sclerosis” study, a two-year medical research study sponsored by Teva Neuroscience.

The goal of the study is to demonstrate how a specialty pharmacy-based therapy management program affects adherence, persistency and patient outcomes. Targeted patient outcomes will include relapses, disability progression, quality of life and the ability to perform work and daily activities. Approximately 3,000 patients from Walgreens and other participating specialty pharmacies will be recruited for the study.

“We are honored to participate in the TOP MS Study,” said Ray Tancredi, senior director of trade account management for Walgreens Specialty Pharmacy. “We support efforts to measure outcomes that lead to more effective MS care. Walgreens is committed to this study and to the many patients who rely on us to provide timely medication fulfillment and clinical assistance.”

Walgreens Specialty Pharmacy’s Care team of pharmacists, nurses and care coordinators provides MS patients with personalized support and education to help them get the best results from their therapy. This extensive network of specially trained clinicians helps patients face the many challenges, including side effects, that can make it difficult to stay on track with their medications. Walgreens therapy-specific clinical management programs are designed with those challenges in mind.

“Teva Neuroscience has initiated the TOP MS Study in order to enhance our understanding of issues facing MS patients, which further demonstrates our commitment to the MS community,” said MerriKay Oleen-Burkey, project leader, TOP MS Study, Teva Neuroscience. “Walgreens has been selected to partner with Teva Neuroscience on this study, due to its outstanding commitment to MS therapy management.”

People interested in participating in the study can contact Christina Makowski, Walgreens study manager, at 412-250-4703 or [email protected].

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Ohio Dept. of Health, retail pharmacies join forces to combat H1N1

BY Michael Johnsen

COLUMBUS, Ohio The Ohio Department of Health on Wednesday announced a public-private partnership with four retail pharmacy chains — Giant Eagle, Kroger, Meijer and Walgreens — to ensure sufficient antiviral medications are available this flu season.

“I’m pleased these retailers have agreed to join us in our effort to help Ohioans as the H1N1 virus continues to cause widespread illness,” stated Alvin Jackson, ODH director. “By putting these plans in place, we can ensure Ohioans will have better access to antiviral medications to treat H1N1 infections even when supplies are limited.”

Ohio is distributing medication from the state stockpile to these chains as needed to address any shortages in the commercial marketplace. The four pharmacies have stores in 70 of Ohio’s 88 counties. In counties where there is no retail presence, Ohio Department of Health will continue to work with local health departments.

In a separate announcement, government health officials announced Friday that vaccines for H1N1 will be available by Dec. 14 to any resident of Ohio who wants them.

 

Any resident of the state can get the vaccine through private physicians, government-approved health centers and local health departments as long as it is available, the state department of health said.

The state government said that it would continue focusing vaccination efforts on high-risk groups, including healthcare workers, pregnant women, people ages 6 months to 24 years, people living with or caring for children younger than 6 months and adults with chronic health conditions. All residents of the state will be able to obtain the vaccine starting Monday, regardless of whether they belong to high-risk groups. Nearly 2.3 million doses of the vaccine are available in the state.

“We continue to urge high-risk Ohioans to seek H1N1 and seasonal flu vaccines,” ODH director Alvin Jackson, M.D said.

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Chain, independent pharmacy lobby backs MTM rider in health-reform bill

BY Jim Frederick

ALEXANDRIA, Va. Chain and independent pharmacy groups are endorsing a new amendment to the Senate’s massive health-reform bill that would boost support for pharmacy-centered medication therapy management programs.

The amendment, sponsored by U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan, D-N.C., would fund improvements and a standardized billing platform for MTM provided to seniors covered by the Medicare Part D drug benefit program. The inclusion of Hagan’s language to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act would enable pharmacists “to help more patients take the right medications in the right ways,” noted the National Association of Chain Drug Stores Wednesday.

“Helping patients to understand the importance of taking their medication properly – medication adherence – is a critical way that pharmacists are playing a role in curbing increasing healthcare costs and improving health outcomes for patients,” said NACDS president and CEO Steve Anderson. “We thank Sen. Hagan for her advocacy on behalf of patients and pharmacy – the face of neighborhood healthcare – and we look forward to continuing to work with Congress to help ensure that MTM provisions remain in the final healthcare bill.”

Also endorsing Hagan’s amendment is the National Community Pharmacists Association and its leader, NCPA EVP and CEO Bruce Roberts. MTM programs, the group noted, “have been shown to improve outcomes while lowering healthcare costs.”

Both groups – and their chain and independent pharmacy members – have mounted a sustained lobbying and education campaign to remind lawmakers of the critical and often overlooked role pharmacists can play in delivering more patient-centered and cost-effective health care. If remarks made by Hagan on the Senate floor are any indication, that message appears to be getting through.

“As much as one half of all patients in our country do not follow the doctor’s orders regarding their medications,” Hagan said. Pharmacists, she added, “follow up and educate the patient about his or her medication regimen.”

Two other amendments to the health-reform package also won strong praise from the independent pharmacy group. “NCPA strongly supports an amendment by Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, that allows pharmacies to continue providing Durable Medical Equipment, Prosthetics, Orthotics, and Supplies [DMEPOS] and Part B drugs to Medicare beneficiaries without purchasing a surety bond,” Roberts noted. “Like the 14 other types of medical professionals that Medicare exempted from the surety bond requirement, pharmacists are licensed and regulated by the states. Requiring surety bonds is duplicative and may lead to loss of patient access to valuable health care services, such as diabetes testing supplies, canes and crutches.

 “We continue to work with Congress on both a permanent pharmacy exemption from DMEPOS accreditation requirements, as well as an extension of the current moratorium, which is scheduled to expire on Dec. 31, 2009,” added NCPA.

The group also endorsed a rider from Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., that would require the Government Accountability Office to conduct the first detailed study in more than 10 years of pharmacists’ cost of dispensing in the Medicaid program. “Private studies have shown community pharmacists to be compensated well below their cost of dispensing,” said Roberts, “and a GAO study could give Congress and the states needed information for measuring the adequacy of the dispensing fees they pay and the impact upon patient access to pharmacy services.”

In general, he added, “NCPA is grateful for Congress’ bipartisan support of community pharmacy in health care reform and we will continue to work with lawmakers as the legislative process continues.”

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