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Walgreens, Good Days cut costs for low-income patients

BY Michael Johnsen

A recent Walgreens Center for Health & Wellbeing Research study showed that a collaboration between the nonprofit foundation Good Days and Walgreens local specialty pharmacies decreased medication copays by between 98% and 100% for low-income patients with complex conditions such as cancer, hepatitis C and rare diseases. In addition, data showed that collaborations between Walgreens and charitable organizations can also help decrease other costs that may inhibit treatment, including premiums and transportation to medical appointments.

“Helping our patients obtain life-extending medication by reducing the financial barrier is a critical step in their care,” Chris Creamer, senior director, Specialty Pharmacy Operations at Deerfield, Ill.-based Walgreens, said.  “Our specialty-trained pharmacists and technicians at our nearly 300 community-based specialty pharmacies throughout the country have a passion for caring for our patients holistically.  Collaborations with organizations like Good Days, ensures [that low-income patients can] afford to start and continue critical treatments.”

“Patient assistance charities provide a financial safety net  to individuals who may not otherwise be able to access the life-saving medication they need. There are many side effects that a patient may experience while taking the prescribed medication, however bankruptcy should not be one of them,” Clorinda Walley, president of Good Days, said. “When there is no cost-effective alternative, a hefty copayment without the support of charitable assistance only discourages necessary care. This research illustrates the needs of individual patients and the benefits of cost-sharing.”

The retrospective study regarding low-income patients won honorable mention in the 2017 PAN CHALLENGE and was published in the American Journal of Managed Care.  This study used a joint pharmacy and foundational database to assess patient outcomes.

Key takeaways included:

  • While the average annual income of patients who received financial assistance was only $20,000, their copay before assistance was as high as $4,200 a year, representing a significant burden on their families;
  • After medication copay financial assistance, patient copays were reduced to between $0 and $51 per year for patients; and
  • The high-cost burden of medications used to treat costly diseases could be reduced if patients were able to take advantage of financial assistance programs offered by non-profit organizations, foundations and pharmaceutical companies.

The article was published in the third annual supplement featuring winning papers from the PAN Challenge, a collaboration between The Patient Access Network Foundation and The American Journal of Managed Care to encourage scholarship that would find new solutions to the challenges of patient access and cost sharing when patients need life-saving therapies.

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WBA maintains W. Va. pharmacy network through Rite Aid transfer

BY Michael Johnsen

West Virginia public employees can continue using their neighborhood Rite Aid drug stores as their in-network pharmacy network after all 103 stores in the state were purchased by Walgreens in February. Under a recent agreement, these Rite Aid stores will remain in-network for West Virginia Public Employees Insurance Agency members as the stores convert to Walgreens pharmacies, Walgreens announced Monday.

“We look forward to welcoming West Virginia Rite Aid customers to Walgreens,” Paul Blankenship, regional vice president, Walgreens, said. “We’ve been a trusted brand since 1901 and we’re proud to serve West Virginia, as we expand our presence through convenient Rite Aid locations in communities across the state.”

In addition, while West Virginia pharmacy customers will see no interruption in service at Rite Aid locations, all 15 Walgreens stores in the state will also join PEIA’s pharmacy network effective April 1.

PEIA’s 160,000 members include state employees, teachers, employees of state colleges, universities and numerous local governmental agencies, as well as their dependents and retirees under age 65.

Nationally, 1,932 Rite Aid drugstores are being acquired by Walgreens. While external signage remains Rite Aid for the time being, stores will be converted to the Walgreens brand in phases over time.

The 15 West Virginia Walgreens stores that join the PEIA network on April 1 are located in Morgantown, Princeton, Beaver, Elkins, Martinsburg, Cross Lanes, Barboursville, Beckley, Huntington, Summersville, Bridgeport, Grafton, Charleston, Hurricane and Charles Town.

Rite Aid last week reported the successful asset transfer of more than 85% of the stores the company is selling to Walgreens Boots Alliance. As of March 2, Rite Aid has transferred 1,651 stores and related assets to WBA, and has received cash proceeds of $3.6 billion.

Rite Aid expects to complete the store transfer process in the spring of 2018.

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Keeping data safe: How retailers can better safeguard consumer information

BY DSN STAFF

Retailers’ role is expanding. Not only do they need to draw in customers with compelling products and offerings, but, in the 21st century, they also are wardens of terabytes of customer data — including credit cards and personal information, alongside their shopping behavior and preferences. Evident is looking to help minimize the risks that retailers take when acquiring sensitive customer data with its secure API that is used by such companies as TaskRabbit and Airbnb. Drug Store News spoke with Evident founder and CEO David Thomas about how it makes guarding personal data easier.

Drug Store News: Why is the need for cyber security increasing? What are the risks?

David Thomas: Money. Criminals can easily monetize the data they are stealing, either by leveraging it themselves for fraudulent activity or by selling it. Either way, they are getting paid. And, their opportunity is enormous because companies are handling and collecting more and more personal information. A hacker only has to find one vulnerability — one small lapse — and can potentially get access to volumes of sensitive personal data.

A security breach is a threat to both the business and the users who are impacted. The potential damage to a business’s reputation and credibility with its users is difficult to replace, no matter the scale or depth of a breach. The risk of a hack is no longer if, but when, making it critical for companies to prioritize and be proactive about security protocols now.

DSN: How does this impact the mass retail world?

DT: Retailers collecting even what seems like basic information, such as users’ email addresses or birth dates, are at risk of a breach, especially if that information is housed in one centralized database. This threat is only exacerbated when a business considers the amount of information they are collecting as part of the hiring process.

Fortunately, retailers don’t have to choose between collecting data that allows them to customize a user’s experience and the ability to protect themselves from a hack. There are more effective ways to share personal data between retailers and individuals without the risk and liability that currently exists today.

DSN: What can retailers do to minimize risks, and what are the costs associated with this?

DT: Retailers need to reevaluate the way they store and manage personal data. They can now acquire the verified personal data they need without having to hold or manage personally identifiable information, or PII, in one place. Any centralized database holding personal information will be vulnerable to a breach. The only way to prevent that is to find a streamlined solution that allows retailers to connect to the data that is needed to operate without requiring them to be responsible for holding and protecting that data within their infrastructure.

Traditional data management can be expensive when businesses consider the time and resources required to maintain and secure personal data. However, retailers can reduce their security costs by working with partners that minimize the amount of information that retailers are required to hold and manage.

DSN: What does Evident offer retailers, and how would the two work together?

DT: Our flexible platform allows businesses to acquire the data they need with less risk and friction. With regard to customers, Evident allows retailers to provide a more secure and customized shopping experience for their users. They also have the ability to verify and authenticate users more effectively, reducing the risk of fraud across their platform.

For hiring workers, retailers can create a process that gives them the verified information they need without requiring them to hold or manage sensitive personal data. We also enable companies to stay current in the verifications they have already completed. Companies receive alerts when something important changes in a user’s profile, ensuring access to the most updated data. And with connections to thousands of attributes, we help businesses scale more quickly, giving them access to all the verified information they need.

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