From the category archives:

RPh on the Go

CA Study Suggest E-Prescriptions Save Lives

by pharmacy on May 26, 2010

A study conducted at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital in Palo Alto, CA, suggests that the implementation of an electronic prescription system lead to a 20 percent drop in the mortality rate since 2007. The computerized physician order entry (CPOE) system is credited with the reduction because it has cut in half the time it takes for pharmacists to fill orders. Without having to decipher handwriting and make follow up calls, pharmacists and physicians report that they have even been able to reduce the number of some procedures, such as blood transfusions, for patients in or just out of surgery. [click to continue…]

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Last year the state of California implemented an online prescription database that records the drug use for patients who receive prescription medications. Doctors and hospitals are now able to access the records online to determine if patients might be prescription drug abusers or sellers. [click to continue…]

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The Consumer Healthcare Products Association (CHPA) recently requested that congress consider requiring nationwide tracking of over the counter cold and allergy medication to combat methamphetamine production. The drugs impacted would be those that contain the ingredient pseudoephedrine (PSE) as they are commonly purchased in bulk by methamphetamine producers.
Ten states have already enacted legislation that allows for electronic tracking of PSE medication sales and others have taken steps that require identification and/or moved the medications behind the pharmacy counter. Oregon and Mississippi have elected to make the medications available by prescription only.
The CHPA argues that the electronic tracking system has the most impact on sales to meth producers without generating the inconvenience to consumers of prescription requirements. They also argue that an electronic, multi-state system is a low cost measure that could provide benefits to law enforcement as well as general consumers.

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AstraZeneca Fined $520 Million

by pharmacy on April 30, 2010

Drug maker AstraZeneca is facing a $520 million fine for off-label promotion of its drug Seroquel. Seroquel is an antipsychotic that is the second highest seller for the drug maker and brought in $4.9 billion in sales in 2009.
The federal government is collecting the fine to settle accusations that AstraZeneca promoted Seroquel for additional conditions including insomnia and psychiatric conditions that the FDA has not approved to be treated by the drug. Although Seroquel has FDA approval for use as an anti-psychotic, it is considered unlawful for drug companies to market products for conditions that the FDA has not specifically reviewed for treatment by that medication.
Although the off-label marketing is not legal, doctors are free to prescribe medication for conditions as they see fit. The conflict creates a grey area that can be exploited by drug sellers who sometimes provide physicians with study findings that encourage off-label prescribing.

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States Concerned About Rebate Losses

by pharmacy on April 30, 2010

As states voice growing concern about the possible redirection of negotiated rebates on drug prices; the federal government recently confirmed that some of money will be paid to the feds to help fund the health care overhaul. The new law mandates that state rebates for brand name drugs be increased from 15.1% to 23.1%. The rebate dollars that fall between those percentages will be redirected to the federal government.
Many states had already negotiated rebate prices that exceeded the 15.1% and are concerned that now they will lose those negotiated rebates to the federal government. Rebates that fall below 15.1% and above 23.1% will be shared between the states and Washington.
Federal officials are confident that losses by the states will be made up for by other changes to the Medicaid programs. After taking into account the savings from program changes many states are still projecting losses with California estimating $50 million per year that will be redirected to the federal government. The federal agency that oversees the Medicaid program admits to now knowing the exact financial impact on states but maintains that the state estimates are excessive and that they are not fully accounting for the reduced costs that will result from the changes.

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E-Prescriptions Triple in 2009

by pharmacy on April 30, 2010

The Wall Street Journal reports that in 2009, 191 million prescriptions were filed electronically. That is almost triple the number of electronic prescriptions sent out in 2008. The trend is expected to continue as more private physicians purchase the programs to offer the electronic service.
The software allows doctors to pull up lists of applicable medications, and their prices, in the office and transmit the chosen prescription to a local pharmacy electronically. The programs eliminate mistakes that traditionally occur because of difficult to read handwriting or damaged paper slips. Physicians also say that the use of electronic lists also help them discuss costs and potential insurance coverage with patients, which reduces the number of call backs when patients get to the pharmacy.
Errors can still occur with prescriptions but overall patients, doctors, and pharmacists are supportive of the electronic systems. Pharmacists report having more time to spend with patients since phone calls to physicians to double check prescriptions are less frequent. In 2010 almost one in five prescriptions so far has been filed electronically. As the federal government pushes for an increase in electronic medical records the use of e-prescriptions is expected to continue to rise.

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