The Official Medtipster Blog

have your healthcare and afford it, too
Subscribe

Archive for March, 2010

Early Diabetes Screening Found Cost-Effective

March 31, 2010 By: Nadia Category: Medicine Advice, Medtipster, Prescription News

Medtipster Source:  JournalWatch – www.jwatch.org

What Age Is Best to Start Screening for Diabetes Among Asymptomatic Patients?

It’s best to start screening for type 2 diabetes before middle age and to repeat screening every few years, according to a Lancet study appearing online.

Using a mathematical model, researchers first simulated a U.S. population of 325,000 nondiabetic 30-year-olds. Then they tested several screening strategies on each cohort member, measuring cost-effectiveness against a control strategy of not testing at all until diabetes symptoms or cardiovascular disease developed.

Active screening strategies ranged from starting at age 60 and then repeating every 3 years to the maximal strategy of starting at 30 with repeats every 6 months.

The best strategy — starting between 30 and 45 with repeats every 3 to 5 years — was the most cost-effective and enabled a diagnosis of diabetes some 6 years earlier than just waiting for symptoms to develop. That strategy would prevent seven myocardial infarctions and add 171 quality-adjusted life-years (QALYs) per 1000 people screened over a 50-year span.

Don’t forget to take your meds! The costs of non-adherence are staggering.

March 29, 2010 By: Jason A. Klein Category: Medicine Advice, Medtipster, Prescription News, Prescription Savings

Medtipster Source: www.pharmalive.com; www.vitality.net; www.att.com

Don’t forget to take your meds! The costs of non-adherence are staggering.

Jason A. Klein, Medtipster President

Life is expensive. You work for a living. Your employer offers health insurance. You’re a diabetic. Your doctor prescribes Glucophage (Metformin Hydrochloride). The average monthy cost is roughly $97.00 (or $8.99 for the generic at Rite Aid….Thanks Medtipster.com!).

Now, what happens if you forget to take or refill your medication? That’s easy. Blue Cross & Blue Shield likely saves $97.00. WRONG. The correct answer is: You get sick and the non-adherence to your medication costs on average 100 times more. According to a study published in August by the New England Healthcare Institute, non-adherence costs the U.S. $290 billion in added medical spending each year. Mortality rates are twice as high among diabetes and heart disease patients who don’t take their pills properly, it said.

A Cambridge, Mass.-based startup called Vitality Inc. took note of the New England Healthcare Institute study and is gearing up to offer an extremely innovative solution. Not only that, but they have brought along AT&T, one of the nations largest communications providers, along for the ride. Their solution: A pill bottle cap that keeps track of when and how often it is opened. If not opened according to the pre-programmed clinical specifications, you will be notified via the AT&T network. The cap can also be programmed to notify your spouse, parents, or children. You can run, but you can’t hide! We, at Medtipster, love this innovation. See full press release below:

Vitality GlowCaps Utilize AT&T Wireless Network to Improve Prescription Medication Adherence
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. and DALLAS, March 23 /PRNewswire/ — Vitality, Inc. and AT&T announced today that AT&T will provide the nationwide wireless network connection for Vitality GlowCaps, intelligent pill caps designed to help patients take medications regularly, provide peace of mind for loved ones, and solve the billion-dollar adherence problem for pharmaceutical companies, retail pharmacies, and healthcare providers.
The AT&T-connected GlowCaps fit on standard prescription bottles and use light then sound reminders, which can be followed by a phone call or text message so people don’t miss a dose. Each time the pill bottle is opened adherence data is recorded and securely relayed to Vitality over the AT&T wireless network. This daily adherence information is used to compile periodic progress reports that are sent to patients, caregivers and doctors, and family members.
Using sophisticated pattern recognition, Vitality uncovers the key motivational levers for each individual, and then tailors programs to activate these levers and break through whatever barriers exist. Data generated by GlowCaps can be used to automatically refill prescriptions as pills deplete.
“For the first time in the healthcare industry, we can use minute-by-minute adherence data to motivate healthy behavior,” said David Rose, CEO of Vitality. “The AT&T wireless network enables Vitality to know when people do and don’t take their medication, then send reminder calls, compile progress reports, and refill people’s medications before they run out.”
“GlowCaps offers a very intuitive solution to an ongoing issue in the daily lives of many consumers,” said Glenn Lurie, president, AT&T Emerging Devices and Resale. “We look forward to providing the network connection for GlowCaps, delivering timely wireless data that will assist consumers in sticking with a prescription regimen, keeping them connected with doctors and family members, informed and on schedule.”
Financial terms of the agreement have not been disclosed.

Rule OKs E-Scripts for Controlled Rx

March 25, 2010 By: Nadia Category: Medtipster, Prescription News

Medtipster Source: HDM Breaking News – Joseph Goedert, March 25, 2010

The Drug Enforcement Administration in the Department of Justice has published a long-delayed interim final rule, with a comment period, to permit electronic prescriptions for controlled substances.

The rule is available at the Federal Register’s public inspection site at federalregister.gov/inspection.aspx, and will be officially published on March 31, effective 60 days later. The DEA will accept public comments during the 60-day interval.

Controlled substances are drugs that have the potential for abuse or dependence, including opiates, stimulants, depressants, hallucinogens and anabolic steroids. These drugs account for up to 20 percent of all prescriptions, according to various studies, which has forced providers that have adopted electronic prescribing to still maintain paper processes.

The rule will permit pharmacies to receive, dispense and archive electronic prescriptions for controlled substances. The regulations, according to DEA, are an addition to, not a replacement of, existing rules governing controlled substances.

“The regulations provide pharmacies, hospitals and practitioners with the ability to use modern technology for controlled substance prescriptions while maintaining the closed system of controls on controlled substances dispensing; additionally, the regulations will reduce paperwork for DEA registrants who dispense controlled substances and have the potential to reduce prescription forgery,” according to the interim final rule. “The regulations will also have the potential to reduce the number of prescription errors caused by illegible handwriting and misunderstood oral prescriptions. Moreover, they will help both pharmacies and hospitals to integrate prescription records into other medical records more directly, which may increase efficiency, and potentially reduce the amount of time patients spend waiting to have their prescriptions filled.”

It’s these expected benefits that industry stakeholders, and a growing number of members of Congress, have been trying to convince DEA to appreciate for nearly a decade. The agency has considered such a rule since at least May 2001 when it issued an advanced notice of proposed rulemaking on the topic. But it wasn’t until four years later than the DEA began to examine how to revise its rules to permit electronic prescriptions.

In December 2007, a 50-member coalition of stakeholders sent President Bush a letter asking for movement on the issue. “The country can no longer afford to have a two-tiered prescribing system,” the letter stated. Nineteen U.S. Senators soon followed with their own letter. The agency finally published a proposed rule in June 2008, and 11 senators sent another letter in May 2009 asking for the final rule.

Rx Abandonment on the Rise

March 24, 2010 By: Nadia Category: Medtipster, Prescription News

Rx abandonment on the rise in patients with commercial health plans, market research study said

Medtipster Source: Drug Benefit News – Author: Alaric DeArment

Patients using commercial health plans in 2009 abandoned their prescriptions at a rate 24% higher than in 2008, according to a new report by Wolters Kluwer Pharma Solutions.

The market research firm said consumers were become more price-sensitive toward drugs, particularly branded drugs; as a result, while the overall rate of abandonment was 6.3%, it was 8.6% for branded drugs, a 23% increase over 2008 and a 68% increase over 2006. Together, patient abandonment and denials for new prescriptions by payers meant that 14.4% of prescriptions went unfilled in 2009, a 5.5% increase over 2008.

Additionally, many patients are turning to generics, which accounted for 66% of prescriptions filled in 2009, versus 60% in 2008 and 50% in 2005. In 2009, there were 2.6 billion generic prescriptions filled, compared with 1.3 billion branded prescriptions.

“Today, patients wield more power and are more inclined to exert that influence in decisions about their prescription drugs,” said Wolters Kluwer Pharma Solutions president and CEO Mark Spiers. “During tough economic times, consumers tend to think more with their pocketbooks. We’re seeing increasing price sensitivity to co-pay and broader moves by patients in making decisions about their drug therapy.”

Prices Rising For Brand-Name Drugs In Coverage Gap

March 18, 2010 By: Nadia Category: Medicine Advice, Medtipster, Prescription News, Prescription Savings

Medtipster Source:  The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation – www.kff.org
Medicare Part D 2010 Data Spotlight: Prices for Brand-Name Drugs in the Coverage Gap
This analysis finds prices for some commonly used brand-name drugs rising in 2010 for beneficiaries who reach the coverage gap (or “doughnut hole”), with increases since 2006 far exceeding the growth in inflation.

The Part D benefit’s coverage gap generally requires enrollees to pay the full cost of their drugs after their total drug spending exceeds their initial coverage limit ($2,830 in 2010) until they reach the threshold for receiving catastrophic coverage ($6,440 in 2010).  In 2007, an estimated 3.4 million Part D enrollees reached the coverage gap.

Using data posted on the government’s Medicare.gov website, the analysis looks at prices for commonly used brand-name drugs without a generic substitute for enrollees in stand-alone prescription drug plans.  The prices reflect the amount that enrollees would pay for a 30-day supply after they reach the coverage gap and before catastrophic coverage begins.  

The spotlight is one in a series analyzing key aspects of the Medicare Part D drug plans that will be available to beneficiaries in 2010. These spotlights were prepared by a team of researchers at Georgetown University, NORC and the Kaiser Family Foundation.

Find generic equivalants and alternatives for commonly used brand-name drugs at www.medtipster.com.

Publix offering free generic diabetes medicine

March 16, 2010 By: Nadia Category: Free Prescriptions, Medicine Advice, Medtipster, Prescription News, Prescription Savings

Publix Super Markets Inc., which offers eight types of generic prescription antibiotics for free, on Monday extended the offer to one of the most popular drug treatments for Type II diabetes.

Publix pharmacies now offer for free three prescription strengths of metformin, a generic form of Glucophage. Until now, Publix charged $21 a month for the maintenance drug. It’s part of broader effort the grocer unveiled to help diabetics monitor and manage their lives with online educational resources, recipes, cooking classes and a monthly e-newsletter.

“We expect to build on this diabetic management system,” Publix spokeswoman Shannon Patten said.

Use Medtipster.com to find a Publix Pharmacy closest to you home.

Gov. Brian Schweitzer Positions to Save Montana 40% off the $100 million Spent on Prescription Drugs

March 15, 2010 By: Nadia Category: Medtipster, Prescription News, Prescription Savings

Medtipster Source: Associated Press / Writer: Matt Gouras

MONTANA GOVERNOR WANTS TO GET DRUGS FROM CANADA

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — Gov. Brian Schweitzer said Thursday that he is seeking federal permission to import cheaper drugs from Canada for use in state insurance programs.

Schweitzer said he thinks the move could chop 40 percent off the $100 million the state spends each year on prescription drugs for Medicaid, the children’s health insurance program, state employees, and inmates at the prison.

We know we can save a lot of money,” Schweitzer said.

The governor said he envisions the state setting up a deal with a Canadian wholesaler that could mail the drugs to local pharmacies on insurance plans paid for by the state. In the case of the prison, the governor said he expects the state would order those directly.

The U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services said Thursday it had not yet seen Montana’s request and couldn’t comment.

Schweitzer was first involved in the issue during an unsuccessful U.S. Senate run in 2000, when he made cheap Canadian drugs a cornerstone of his platform and would take busloads of seniors north of the border to buy drugs.

The issue has been debated in Washington, D.C., over the years.

Recently, the U.S. Senate rejected a plan to let Americans import prescription drugs from abroad. Such a change would deprive drug makers of billions of dollars.

Both the pharmaceutical industry and the Obama administration also have argued that such plans would not protect people from potentially dangerous or ineffective drugs – a notion at which Schweitzer and other supporters scoff.

“These are the same drugs from the same places,” Schweitzer said of the Canadian pharmaceuticals.

Schweitzer is asking Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to exercise authority to certify the drugs to be safe, to waive Medicaid requirements that such funds only be spent within U.S. borders, and to make other allowances.

Schweitzer said he decided to move forward with the idea now because Congress has not solved the problem with health care reform and because the state is desperately looking for ways to cut costs.

“Desperate times make us desperate people,” Schweitzer said.

The governor said he hopes for a waiver within the year.

CVS Caremark Research Illustrates How Innovative Pharmacy Benefit Plan Design Optimizes Generic Utilization

March 11, 2010 By: Jason A. Klein Category: Free Prescriptions, Medicine Advice, Medtipster, Prescription News, Prescription Savings

Medtipster Source: CVS Caremark (NYSE: CVS), 10/13/2009, http://info.cvscaremark.com/newsroom

This is an old release from November 2009, BUT I really liked it and have been meaning to post it for some time now.  The message of the CVS Caremark release and the study is: We as an industry need to advise benefit payors to focus on changing consumer utilization behavior rather than  shifting cost. This study took 15,000 people, gave them a $0.00 copay on generic medications. What happened? Overall plan costs decreased due to a GDR (generic dispensing rate) increase and therapy compliance/adherence increased in key classes (antihyperlipidemics, antihypertensives, antidiabetics). WOW…who would have thought that by giving away the cow, you could pay for the milk…

WOONSOCKET, R.I., Oct. 13 /PRNewswire/ — CVS Caremark (NYSE: CVS) presented data at the Academy of Managed Care Pharmacy (AMCP) Annual Educational Conference, which illustrates how innovative pharmacy benefit plan design can impact generic utilization. The study further underscores how pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) can work with plan sponsors to manage costs and improve health outcomes by working to change plan participant behavior through increased engagement. The study found that implementing a $0 copay structure for generic medications can be an effective strategy to increase generic dispensing, with the generic dispensing rate (GDR) increasing to 60.8 percent (a 4.2 percent increase) during the study period.

“Our 2009 Benefit Planning Survey found that clients are more interested in identifying opportunities to change plan participant behavior, rather than shift costs,” said Jack Bruner, Executive Vice President, CVS Caremark. “The data presented at AMCP illustrates an example of how we can work with our plan sponsors to change and optimize participant behavior in order to achieve increased generic utilization. These types of partnerships enable us to effectively reduce costs for both our client and their plan participants without compromising quality or access.”

In addition to an improvement in GDR during the study period, the analysis found that the average participant cost share for generic medications decreased almost 10 percent (9.4 percent decrease). In addition, the average plan cost per 30 days of therapy also exhibited a slight decline, despite the reduction in generic copayment rates. Prevalence of use in three key preventative drug classes also increased significantly (participants on cholesterol lowering therapy increased 13 percent, on antihypertensive therapy increased seven percent and on diabetic therapy increased nine percent) as a proportion of eligible patients.

“While some plan designs work to drive generic utilization by increasing brand medication copayments, this study demonstrates that lowering the generic copayment can also be an effective strategy to increase GDR,” said Mr. Bruner. “In addition, the data indicates that lowering the generic copayment may also be associated with an increase in participants taking key preventative drugs, which could positively impact adherence and overall health outcomes.”

The study was designed to evaluate the results of plan design changes, including implementation of a $0 copay for generic medications, on the GDR, plan participant cost and impact of plan participant behavior changes on health outcomes. During the study period, participants were allowed to fill prescriptions for generic medications at a preferred retail pharmacy network at a zero dollar copay. The study included 15,000 plan participants covered by a self-funded employer group who were continuously enrolled under the benefit for the duration of the study period (12/1/2007 through 7/31/2009). 

Think Generics First!

March 10, 2010 By: Tylar Masters Category: Prescription Savings

Generic drugs are a safe and effective alternative for many reasons.

Not only individuals who require inexpensive health care alternatives commonly opt to use generics, but for economic reasons, everyone should think generics first. Generic drugs use the same active ingredients and carry the same side effects as their brand name counterpart. Generics and brand-name drugs are identical in their safety, purpose, effectiveness, and administration method. By identical, it could be defined as the drugs have identical active components or employ a bioequivalent composition of the brand-name equivalent. They are deemed bioequivalent if their pace and accessibility after being given in an identical quantity have like effects. Having parallel effects, both medicine forms have the same effects and amount of effectiveness.

You may ask, if brand name and generic medicines are so similar, why are brand name drugs more inexpensive than generic drugs? The expensive price of branded drugs stem from their research, process, and promotion. Since the brand name drug is recently made, a copyright is provided to grant them sole rights in selling the medicine. When these branded medicines are nearing their patent termination, other manufacturers go to the Food and Drug Administration to permit them to manufacture the generics.

Generic drug manufacturers don’t have a patent, thus the logic for their lesser price. Other generics can have a patent for the composition but not for the active ingredient. Because the generic manufacturers only have to apply and have no initial R&D prices, they can offer the drug at a smaller cost. Economics also have a function in the generic drug’s cheaper value. Since more producers can produce a generic version, there is higher competition in the economy. For one manufacturer to have a lead against the other, they must sell the medicine at a less expensive cost. With more customers, they can opt to have sales at a cheaper value.

Since generic drugs get their smaller prices from economic factors, it’s evident that a medicine’s value does not determine its quality. Some people are under the misconception that generic drugs have a smaller cost because they’re not as effective. Prior to reaching such a conclusion, you need to do research and comprehend the costing process behind it. The Food and Drug Administration makes certain that generic producers adhere to their criteria. These criteria are implemented to branded and generic medicine companies. Anyone with this price misreading should also know that 50 percent of the generics produced are done by branded manufacturers. Don’t be alarmed if the generic version applies a different combination of inactive ingredients. The differences also stem from a copyright issue. US copyright laws require that generics cannot look identical as the brand-name equivalent. Nonetheless, the generic will still use the same active ingredient process and mix to cause identical efficacy and results.

Stater Bros. Free antibiotic program to continue

March 08, 2010 By: Nadia Category: Free Prescriptions, Medicine Advice, Medtipster, Prescription News, Prescription Savings

Medtipster source: http://drugstorenews.com/story.aspx?id=132803&menuid=333

Stater Bros., a retailer based in Southern California said its offering of free 14-day supplies of selected antibiotics, including refills will continue.

In September 2009, all 28 Stater Bros. Super Rx Pharmacies throughout Southern California began offering a free 14-antibiotics program. Since the program began, thousands of prescriptions have been filled. Due to this overwhelming success, the program will continue its efforts to offer customers access to selected antibiotics.

The free antibiotic program offers eight different classes of antibiotics. Stater Bros. also offers a $4 generic prescription program. Over 300 commonly prescribed medications are $4 for a 30-day supply.

Find Stater Bros. and thousands of other pharmacies offering these and similar discounted generic drugs at www.medtipster.com.

Get Adobe Flash playerPlugin by wpburn.com wordpress themes