Wash. hospital system plans to open clinics in two Rite Aid locations
SEATTLE MultiCare Health System, which runs the hospitals Tacoma General, Mary Bridge Children’s, Allenmore and Good Samaritan in Puyallup, Wash., plans to open two clinics in Rite Aid stores, in Tacoma and Lakewood, Wash., the first week of August, according to published reports. MultiCare is believed to be the first hospital system in Washington to open in-store clinics.
The clinics will be staffed with nurse practitioners and offer diagnosis and treatment for such common illnesses as strep throat, earaches, flu, bladder infections, bronchitis and allergies, and will provide such services as lab tests and immunizations.
For the consumer, the attractions of the in-store clinics are many: Getting in to see someone without waiting for an appointment or resorting to an emergency room and getting treatment at a known, reasonable cost (many such clinics charge a flat fee per visit; MultiCare’s is likely to be about $60).
Patients are “probably going to be able to get in and out of that retail clinic much quicker than if they went to the emergency room,” said Andrew Baron, primary care medical director for MultiCare Medical Group, who said he hoped patients find they “could be cared for at that lower level of care at the retail clinic and still get excellent service and good value for their dollars that they spend on health care.”
Baron added that MultiCare would be able to create and maintain an electronic medical record for a patient “that ties our retail clinics to our hospitals, our emergency rooms, that ties our retail clinics to our primary care physicians and specialists as well.”
That record will alert doctors and nurse practitioners to medical histories, including previous lab tests, medications and allergies, helping to avoid duplication. “It just provides for a great overall service for the patient because you’ve got that information at your fingertips.”
Antibody drug found cost-effective against allergic asthma
NEW YORK A review of seven studies has found the antibody drug Xolair to be cost-effective in treating allergic asthma, according to a report published in the journal Allergy.
The report, by University of Washington researcher Sean Sullivan and Dr. F. Turk of Novartis Pharma showed that Xolair, Novartis’ brand name for omalizumab, showed the drug was cost-effective in treating allergic asthma for which common asthma medications were inadequate.
The studies also found some evidence that Xolair may not be as cost-effective in treating other forms of asthma.
Novartis and Genentech market Xolair in the U.S. Genentech reported U.S. sales of $472 million for the drug in 2007, according to Novartis financial data.
First DataBank settles lawsuit for $1 million
BOSTON First DataBank, a provider of integrated databases of information about medications, has agreed to pay $1 million to settle a lawsuit alleging it conspired with McKesson to manipulate the average wholesale price of drugs.
The case, New England Carpenters Health Benefits Fund vs. First DataBank, filed in 2005, alleges that First DataBank and McKesson “wrongfully increased the so-called wholesale acquisition cost to AWP markup factor applied to numerous prescription pharmaceuticals through a scheme begun in late 2001 and 2002,” which meant that the plaintiffs in the class action lawsuit made “substantial excess payments.”
First DataBank denies any wrongdoing or liability and “has valid and complete defenses to the claims asserted against [it] in the class action,” which it is settling to avoid the expense and inconvenience of further litigation, the settlement says.
The case, filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts, explicitly excludes government entities from joining the class action suit. The San Francisco Health Plan and the state of Connecticut have filed suits with similar charges that McKesson and First DataBank inflated the spread between WAC and AWP from 20 percent to 25 percent, costing state Medicaid and other health programs untold sums.
First DataBank is not named as a defendant in the two new lawsuits. McKesson continues to defend itself in all three cases.