News and Trends

Published Online: Wednesday, April 13, 2011
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High Drug Costs Cause Patients to Skip Doses

For the estimated 5.8 million Americans who have heart failure, medication adherence is poor, and in many cases, cost is a key factor. In a study published in the April issue of Mayo Clinic Proceedings, researchers reviewed the pharmacy records of 209 adults between the ages of 60 and 85 living in Olmsted County, Minnesota, to determine why patients fall short when it comes to taking heart medications.

“We found patients weren’t filling their prescriptions because of the expense,” said lead author Shannon Dunlay, MD, a Mayo Clinic cardiologist.

In the study, patients were asked how often they missed doses or didn’t take drugs at all, and why. Researchers found that younger patients were slightly more likely to skip certain heart medications than older patients, and that men were less likely than women to stick to certain drug regimens.

Among patients who did poorly following prescriptions, financial concern was the main reason. According to the study, 46% reported that they had stopped taking statins or not filled a prescription because of cost, and 23% acknowledged skipping doses to save money. Although 77% of patients in the study were eligible for Medicare, medication costs were still an issue in some cases, the researchers found.

FDA: Pharmacists Can Continue to Mix Preterm Labor Drug

In late March, the FDA announced that it would not stop pharmacists from compounding a less expensive version of Makena, a drug approved in February to reduce the risk of certain preterm births in women who have had at least 1 prior preterm birth.

The FDA doesn’t usually allow compounding of formulations that duplicate commercially available products. However, the initial price tag of $1500 per dose for the injection—which is taken weekly for about 15 to 20 weeks— drew anger from health care providers and government officials, largely because some pharmacists are able to mix the drug for as little as $10 to $20 per dose, according to media reports.

In response to concerns from patients, providers, and politicians, the agency ruled that “in order to support access to this important drug,” it will not take enforcement action against pharmacists who compound the drug for patients with a valid prescription.

Since the FDA announcement, the price of Makena has been reduced by nearly 55% to $690 per injection, according to Ther-Rx, a subsidiary of KV Pharmaceuticals, which said on its Web site that it plans to offer supplemental rebates. PT

iPAD EXTRA: Fighting nonadherence in your pharmacy practice is a daily challenge. To arm yourself with exclusive tools and resources, download our free iPad app from the iTunes store and go to Pharmacy Insights.

APhA Taps First 25 Communities to Participate in Diabetes Project

The American Pharmacists Association (APhA) Foundation has selected 25 organizations to participate in Project IMPACT: Diabetes, a multiyear initiative designed to improve care for people disproportionately affected by diabetes across the United States.

The organizations are:

• Appalachian College of Pharmacy (Oakwood, VA)

• Bakersfield and Visalia Commmunity Health Centers (Bakersfield, CA and Visalia, CA)

• Balls Food Stores of Kansas City (Kansas City, KS)

• Capstone Rural Health Center (Parrish, AL)

• Central Ohio Diabetes Association (Columbus, OH)

• Centro de Salud Familiar La Fe, Inc Pharmacy (El Paso, TX)

• County of Santa Barbara Public Health Department (Santa Barbara, CA)

• CrossOver Ministry Clinic, Inc (Richmond, VA)

• Diabetes Initiative of South Carolina (Columbia, SC)

• Fink’s Pharmacy (Essex, MD)

• Fresno and Madera Commmunity Health Centers (Fresno, CA and Madera, CA)

• Jefferson County Department of Health (Birmingham, AL)

• Kroger Pharmacy Cincinnati-Dayton Division (Cincinnati, OH)

• Mountain States Health Alliance (Johnson City, TN)

• Pascua Yaqui Reservation of the El Rio Health Center (Tucson, AZ)

• Price Chopper Pharmacy (Schenectady, NY)

• The Daily Planet, Inc (Richmond, VA)

• The Ohio State University College of Pharmacy (Columbus, OH)

• Tucson Urban Community of the El Rio Health Center (Tucson, AZ)

• University of Kentucky College of Pharmacy (Lexington, KY)

• Variety Care (Oklahoma City, OK)

• West Virginia Health Right, Inc (Charleston, WV)

• Wichita Public Schools, USD 259 (Wichita, KS)

• Wingate University School of Pharmacy (Wingate, NC)

• Zufall Health Center (Dover, NJ) Part of the Bristol-Myers Squibb

Foundation’s Together on Diabetes initiative, Project IMPACT aims to address the challenges faced by people living with diabetes by fully integrating pharmacists into the health care team. The project will contribute a total of $625,000 to practice sites across the country that have created an interdisciplinary care model for diabetes.



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