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News Capsules

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Next-Generation Pharmacist Awards Semi-Finalists Anounced

The semi-finalists in 10 distinct award categories have been announced by Fred Eckel, RPh, MS, Editor-in-Chief of Pharmacy Times and chair of the judging committee for the Next-Generation Pharmacist Awards, part of the year-long program presented by Pharmacy Times and Parata Systems. The purpose of the program is to take a comprehensive look at where the industry of pharmacy is heading—through a national research project and awards program, both of which focus on pharmacists who are on the front lines of health care and defining the future of pharmacy.

The semi-finalists include pharmacists from all areas of the industry—from independent pharmacists to large chain retailers as well as military health clinics and educational institutes. These brand new awards recognize pharmacists who are leading the way with innovative practices, service to their communities, and progressive actions that make an impact in their pharmacy, their communities, and the profession. A total of 30 semi-finalists have been selected by a distinguished panel of judges representing industry leaders. The finalists include pharmacists, student pharmacists, and pharmacy technicians from across the country—representing 17 states and all regions of the country.

Details on these 30 semi-finalists, including biographies and photographs, will be available on www.nextgeneration pharmacist.org and www.PharmacyTimes. com on August 25, 2010, and will also be published in the September 2010 issue of Pharmacy Times in a special Next-Generation Pharmacist section. The issue will also include the findings of the comprehensive national research program that explores where pharmacists believe the profession is heading, part of a 2-part series that reflects the industry trends and thoughts of pharmacists. A second Next-Generation Pharmacist section will appear in the October issue of Pharmacy Times, when the winners in each of the 10 categories will be revealed. Articles detailing the results of the research project and insights into the profession will also be included in this special section of Pharmacy Times.

The Next-Generation Pharmacist program will culminate in a gala awards ceremony, held concurrently with the National Community Pharmacists Association meeting, on October 25, 2010, in Philadelphia at The Franklin Institute. The 10 category winners as well as the top winner—the “Next-Generation Pharmacist 2010”—will be announced. For tickets and information about this event, which celebrates the profession of pharmacy, go to www.nextgenerationpharmacist.org or call Jack Horner Communications at (610)768-3700.

Closing the Donut Hole, Step-by-Step
Implementing an essential component of the Affordable Care Act, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) issued a final agreement that defines how drug manufacturers will participate in the Medicare Part D discount program.

Beginning in 2011, the discount will cover 50% of the cost of brand name drugs and biologics for Medicare beneficiaries who fall into the coverage gap, or “donut hole.” This is the second phase in the government’s 10-year plan for closing the donut hole. The first arrived in the form of $250 rebate checks, which were mailed to 80,000 eligible seniors in early June.

The agreement requires manufacturers to make quarterly invoice payments within 38 days of receipt. It also outlines the dispute resolution and appeals process manufacturers must follow to resolve any payment inconsistencies or conflicts. Once the system is in place, CMS will closely monitor payment data to ensure the savings fall into the hands of beneficiaries and health insurance plans.

“Great Communicator” Says Larger Role for Pharmacists is Needed
In a recent Wall Street Journal article, R. Pete Vanderveen, PhD, RPh, dean of the School of Pharmacy at the University of Southern California, asked a familiar question—how will the health care system handle an influx of 30 million patients who are newly insured as a result of the health care reform bill?

Dr. Vanderveen’s answer echoed the message pharmacy associations have reiterated for months in letters, telephone calls, and meetings with state and federal officials. Entitled “How to Care for 30 Million More Patients,” Dr. Vanderveen’s op-ed urged Congress to carve out a larger role for pharmacists.

It was this message that earned him the title of Pharmacy “Great Communicator”—an honor awarded by the National Association of Chain Drug Stores to those who publicly communicate the case for pharmacy’s role in health care policy. Like many, Dr. Vanderveen believes pharmacists’ clinical training and in-depth knowledge of drug interactions are essential for the long-term management of chronic diseases. He believes physicians and pharmacists should work as a team, saving physicians’ time and increasing access to care.

“The traditional medical model—in which a single physician provides all recommended care to patients—has run its course,” Dr. Vanderveen wrote. “With an aging population and millions of expected new patients, chronic disease rates are expected to rise.”

He continued, “What we need is a new health care delivery model in which the primary-care physician is complemented by a team of professionals and providers. Congress should enable pharmacists to become a part of that team.”