News Capsules

Pharmacy Times, Volume 0,0

Medication Adherence Campaign Launches in CA

InnovationRx's new medication adherenceawareness campaign is targetingCalifornia pharmacists and patients.The campaign, a pilot for a nationwideeffort, aims to provide pharmacists withresources to help their patients achievemedication adherence and improvehealth.

"Pharmacists play an important rolein advocating for a patient's health, andmedication adherence is a critical topic,including the over- and underutilizationof medication, that should be regularlydiscussed with patients when dispensingmedications," said Paul Lofholm, PharmD,independent pharmacy owner and presidentof the California Pharmacists Association."Patients can optimize theirhealth through the appropriate use ofmedication, and pharmacists are uniquelypositioned and encouraged to helppatients understand the value of theirmedication regimen and to follow theirdoctors instructions."

InnovationRx is collaborating with theAmerican Pharmacists Association, theFDA's Office of Women's Health, andPharmacists Planning Service Inc. Visitwww.innovationrx.com for more information.

Gearing Up for Part D Open Season

The annual open enrollment period for Medicare Part D prescription drug coverageruns from November 15 through December31, and pharmacists are likely to encountersenior patients with questions about choosingthe right plan.

With plans changing their offerings fromyear-to-year, the Centers for Medicare &Medicaid Services (CMS) is urging beneficiariesto review their current plans and lookat other options to find the one that bestmeets their needs. Beneficiaries should havereceived notice of any coverage changes from their current prescription drug plan byOctober 31.

"Some beneficiaries may see significant premium increases or changes, such asreduced coverage in the gap, if they stay in the same prescription drug plan in 2009,"according to Kerry Weems, CMS acting administrator.

A recent analysis of the newly released Part D premiums by staff of the HouseCommittee on Oversight and Government Reform found that 16.3 million Medicarebeneficiaries—92% of all Part D enrollees—will be forced to pay higher premiums ifthey wish to remain in the same plan.

To help beneficiaries navigate the open enrollment process, many chain drugstoresand independent pharmacies have in-store and Web-based tools. A list ofnational stand-alone prescription drug plans and state-specific fact sheets can befound at www.cms.hhs.gov/center/openenrollment.asp. Beneficiaries also may call800-MEDICARE (800-633-4227), available 24/7, for more information.

2008 NCPA Digest Paints Positive Picture

The National Community PharmacistsAssociation's (NCPA) newly released2008 NCPA Digest, sponsored by CardinalHealth, spells good news for independentcommunity pharmacies.

The number of independent communitypharmacies in operation has heldsteady since last year at 23,318, whichcomprise 39.4% of the nation's retailpharmacies. Last year's Digest providedan inside look into how the MedicarePart D prescription drug plan had playeda leading role in reducing the number ofindependent community pharmacies by5%. This year's report, however, showsthat independent community pharmaciesare adjusting to new market conditionsand sustaining their viability.

In 2007, independent community pharmaciesrepresented an $84 billion shareof the marketplace, with $78 billionderived from prescription sales alone.These pharmacies dispensed >1.4 billionprescription drugs, with an averagegeneric utilization rate of 61%, helpingto reduce the price of the average prescriptiondrug dispensed at independentcommunity pharmacies by almost $4from last year.

Furthermore, independent communitypharmacies continue to remain competitivein the technology arena. The Digestfound that more than half of independentpharmacies have a Web site, offeringprescription refills or OTC products.Also, nearly 70% of independents areconnected to receive electronic prescriptionsfrom providers or electronic prescribing.

Bartell Joins Pharmacy Times Strategic Alliance

Bartell Drugs is the newest drugstorechain to join the Pharmacy Times StrategicAlliance Program. Located throughoutWashington State, Bartell Drugs is theoldest family-owned drugstore chain with55 stores.

The company was founded in 1890 by21-year-old Kansas pharmacist George H.Bartell Sr. George D. Bartell, grandson ofthe founder, serves as chairman and chiefexecutive officer. Jean (Bartell) Barber,the founder's granddaughter, is the chieffinancial officer of the company.

The chain has many innovative patient-careprograms, including immunizationsat in-house clinics and on-site atlocal businesses, traveling osteoporosisscreenings, and medication therapy managementservices. For more information,visit www.bartelldrugs.com.

Congress Extends Freeze on TRICARE Copays

The National Defense Authorization Actfor Fiscal Year 2009, recently signedinto law, preserves pharmacy choice forTRICARE beneficiaries, extending for 1year the current freeze on their retailpharmacy copayments.

The freeze ensures that 9 million activeduty personnel, retirees, and their familieswill not face cost increases for obtainingprescription drugs and services fromretail pharmacies. The legislation hasbeen a priority for community pharmacygroups in order to prevent efforts to driveTRICARE beneficiaries to mail order.

"The brave men and women whoserve and sacrifice for our nation deservea choice when it comes to choosingwhere to obtain their prescription medications,"said Steven Anderson, IOM,CAE, president and chief executive officerof the National Association of ChainDrug Stores.

UA College of Pharmacy Wins Coveted Competition

A team of pharmacy students from the University of Arizona College of Pharmacy arethe proud recipients of the National Community Pharmacists Association's (NCPA)2008 Pruitt-Schutte Student Business Plan Competition. A team from the SamfordUniversity McWhorten School of Pharmacy came in second, and a team representingthe University of Kansas finished third.

The announcement made at the NCPA 110th Annual Convention marks the fifthyear of the competition. This year's competition drew entries from 30 schools andcolleges of pharmacy—nearly one-third of all US pharmacy schools.

"The NCPA Foundation is focused on preserving the legacy of independent communitypharmacies, and what better way to ensure that outcome than to sponsora competition that teaches pharmacy students about ownership," said SharleaLeatherwood, PD, NCPA Foundation president. "The plans the winning 3 teams submittedwere truly excellent roadmaps to success."

The competition is named to honor 2 champions of independent community pharmacy,the late Neil Pruitt Sr and H. Joseph Schutte. The competition is supported bythe Pruitt and Schutte families, the NCPA Foundation, and Covidien.

Rite Aid Launches Diabetes Outreach Effort

Rite Aid isteaming upwith the AmericanDiabetesAssociation(ADA)and the onlinediabetes resource,dLife, to increase awareness andeducate patients on the growing diabetesepidemic. The campaign offers patientsfree information on diabetes preventionand management at all Rite Aid storesand online.

Among the resources: a 16-pageDiabetes Guide with important informationabout risk factors, weight management,and safe treatment options forhealth conditions, such as gum disease,dry eyes, and wound and foot care.The drugstore also is supporting diabetesresearch by supporting 80 ADA-sponsoredwalks across the country duringthe month of November.

Rite Aid maintains a comprehensiveWeb site year-round, dedicated to diabeteseducation and awareness, www.riteaiddiabetes.com. It features tips onmanaging and living with diabetes, articlescovering such topics as nutritionand blood glucose monitoring, frequentlyasked questions, and a section devotedto family and caregivers.

One-Stop Searching: FDA Creates New Drug Safety Web Page

Patients and health care professionalscan now go to a single page on the FDA'sWeb site to find a wide variety of informationabout prescription drugs. Establishingthe Web page is one of the requirementsof the FDA Amendments of 2007.

The Web page, www.fda.gov/cder/drugSafety.htm, provides links to the latestdrug-specific information (eg, labeling,FDA press announcements, fact sheets,safety alerts, and podcasts), as well asdirects users to searchable databases ofpost-market studies and clinical trials.

"By placing Web links to these up-to-dateresources on a single page, we'rehelping consumers and health care professionalsfind drug safety informationfaster and easier," said Paul Seligman, MD,MPH, associate director of safety policyand communication in the FDA's Centerfor Drug Evaluation and Research.

Revised Labeling for Kids' OTC Cough, Cold Meds Coming?

The modified labels for oralOTC pediatric cough and coldmedicines prompted retailpharmacies to educate thepublic on potential treatmentoptions for this new classof medicines. Throughout the2008-2009 cough and coldseason, manufacturers willbe transitioning onto storeshelves these medicines with the newlabels and packaging.

A recent FDA public hearing on theissue resulted in leading manufacturersof these medicines to voluntarily transitionthe labeling on oral OTC pediatriccough and cold medicines to state "donot use" in children younger than 4 yearsof age. Furthermore, forproducts containing certainantihistamines, manufacturersare voluntarilyadding new language thatcautions parents not touse antihistamine productsto sedate or make achild sleepy.

Efforts by CVS/pharmacyand Walgreens to inform individuals ofthe FDA's recommendations and pendinglabel changes include in-store signage inthe cough and cold section. Individualsalso are encouraged to speak with CVSand Walgreens pharmacists about potentialtreatment options for cold and allergysymptoms in children under age 4.

?Parents Rethinking How to Treat Colds

Parents are facing a challenging cold andflu season with the FDA's warnings aboutthe safety of children's cold medicine andmanufacturers voluntarily revising labelson these medicines.

A recent survey, released by Katz Inc,found that currently 70% of parents withchildren under the age of 4 said theygive their children cold medicine whenthey are sick, as do 74% of parents withkids under the age of 6 and 80% of parentswith children aged 7 to 12. Whenquestioned if they plan to change theway they treat their children's colds thisseason because of the FDA's warning,64% of parents who currently give theirchildren cold medicine either plan to stop(34%) or are considering it (30%).

New Law Targets Methamphetamine Production

The retail pharmacy community and law enforcementsecured an important victory last month with passage of theMethamphetamine Production Prevention Act. The bipartisanlegislation will facilitate the adoption and use of electronic logbooksystems that are used to trace sales of methamphetamineprecursors.

Certain chemicals that are necessary to produce methamphetamineare readily available in household products or OTCcold or allergy medicines. Although current law restricts theamount of these products that can be purchased at one timeby a single person, some meth producers have been ableto get around restrictions by "smurfing"—purchasing illegalamounts of the precursor products by traveling to multiplepharmacies and buying small quantities at each. The new lawimproves upon the 2006 Combat Methamphetamine EpidemicAct with provisions facilitating the use of electronic logbooksinstead of written ones and promoting the use of bar codereader technology.