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  • 20 Mar 2018 8:24 AM | Anonymous

    List of Job Opportunities for Pharmacy Professionals

    Most people believe that pharmacists only work behind the counter of a pharmacy. Little do they know, being a pharmacist is just one of the many job opportunities for pharmacy professionals. Depending on where they work, they can take on a wide range of roles.

    Pharmacist

    The primary role of a pharmacist is to dispense medications, give advice on drugs, especially with regard to the side effects, interactions and other relevant information. This is why they need to learn more than just the medications. They also need to learn to engage with patients and clients. They're also responsible for storing, formulating and providing correct dosage of medicines.

    Pharmacist work in several different settings, such as retail, clinics, home health care facilities, home infusion facilities, armed services, public health service, internet companies, and other settings. These provide plenty of job opportunities for pharmacy professionals.

    Community Pharmacists

    Community pharmacists serve patients and clients within the community, providing them with information and advice, health medication and other associated services. The job description is basically the same as a regular pharmacist, except for their place of business. Some community pharmacists also specialize in the science and clinical use of medications.

    Business Owner

    A lot of community pharmacists combine their professional talents and use it to build their own pharmacy. Some of them may start with a management position within a chain pharmacy practice and then move on to become owners, one of the job opportunities for pharmacy professionals that earn more. To succeed as a business owner, pharmacists must take advantage of management development programs offered by chain companies. These include marketing operations, third-party programs, pharmacy affairs, legal affairs and computerization.

    Managed Care Pharmacist

    Managed care organizations offer job opportunities for pharmacy professionals. The setting is designed to optimize patient care and outcomes, and pharmaceutical care helps improve access to primary and preventive care in the most appropriate and cost-effective manner. As managed care continues to grow and assumes a larger role in the healthcare system, job opportunities for pharmacy professionals also continue to grow.

    Managed care pharmacists usually work directly with physicians and caregivers that give medical treatments, such as drug therapy. The task involves reviewing medical literature regularly and identifying the safest and most effective medications. The work also includes creating care management programs.

    Pharmacy Purchaser / Pharmacy Procurement Officer

    Job opportunities for pharmacy professionals don't stop and start behind the counter. They can be purchasers and buyers as well. Pharmacy procurement facilitates purchasing of medicines that meet safety and health standards at a cost-effective price. The job begins with a draft of purchase order, ensure that the order meets the allocated budget; reviews purchase orders, and provide necessary documentation. Pharmacy procurement also involves keeping accurate records of all the medicine in possession and other tasks related to inventory. In whatever they do, pharmacy purchaser must abide by the rules and regulations in place and ensure quality services.

    Academy Pharmacy

    Colleges and schools of pharmacy also offer job opportunities for pharmacy professionals. In this setting, they work as full-time faculty members, teaching, researching and providing pointers on public service and patient care. To become an academic pharmacist or a member of a college or university faculty, an aspiring pharmacist is usually required to have postgraduate degree and training. If they meet a school’s requirements, they can choose from a wide range of job opportunities for pharmacy professionals in an academic setting.

  • 15 Mar 2018 8:20 AM | Anonymous

    Hard to Find Brand Name Drugs

    Despite the growing number of pharmaceutical companies and drug manufacturers, there are still plenty of hard to find brand name drugs. There are plenty of reasons that some medications are in short supply, but one thing is for sure, it is causing a lot of problems. According to the news, drug shortage may be linked to cancer relapse in kids. But how do you explain shortage of intravenous saline, which is supposed to be in abundant supply in hospitals?

    Cancer specialists say that manufacturing problems that pharmaceutical plants are experiencing may cause shortage of critical cancer drugs. Regardless, the problem is hitting cancer patient extra hard, especially because doctors have to substitute with more expensive alternatives. According to FDA, in 2011, there were over 250 drugs that were in very short supply, over 120 in 2012, and over 300 in 2013.

    Medications that have become hard to find brand name drugs are forcing healthcare workers to make painful choices. In the case of cancer patients, specialists had to switch to chemotherapies that may be not as effective (http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2013/06/03/drug-shortages-cancer-patients/2382597/) as using hard to find brand name drugs. The problem also caused delays in treatment, giving cancer more time to spread.

    Some of the hard to find brand name drugs are the following:

    Ultiva

    Ultiva is a narcotic pain reliever that is used to prevent and treat pain that occur during and after surgery and procedures. It dulls the pain perception center in the brain, increasing the patients’ threshold of pain. Because it has become a Bioniche product, along with changes in the packaging and NDC, Ultiva has now become one of the hard to find brand name drugs. It is in short supply nationwide, this is why hospitals and physicians are looking for alternatives. Unfortunately, Ultiva or remifentaril was also an alternative for other drugs, such as Pethidine that was used to relieve pain during birth.

    Anectine

    Anectine is used to relax muscles during surgery or when using a ventilator. It is also used to induce a similar effect of anesthesia when inserting a tube in the windpipe. As a depolarizing muscle relaxant, it keeps the muscles from contracting, especially those in the face and those used for moving and breathing. Unfortunately, Anectine is now one of the hard to find brand name drugs. A lot of pharmacies and facilities are now searching for establishments that supply Anectine. Unfortunately, this is one of those hard to find brand name drugs that don't have a generic version, at least there is none that is approved by FDA.

    Morphine Carpujects

    Morphine carpujects are basically morphine in a vial and syringe system. They are easier to use because there will be no need to draw up morphine into a syringe. But these are only applicable to hospitals that allow the use of syringe smaller than 10cc on central lines.

    The morphine (http://www.drugs.com/morphine.html) contained in carpujects is an opioid pain medication used to treat moderate to severe pain. Because of its short acting formulation it is only taken as needed. Use of morphine after surgery is not recommended unless morphine has already been taken before the surgery. Unfortunately, this product has also become one of the hard to find brand name drugs.

  • 13 Mar 2018 8:08 PM | Anonymous

    Managing Customer Reviews Online

    Referrals are the lifeblood of most independent pharmacies.  Most pharmacies do everything they can to get good word-of-mouth. But did you know your customer’s may also offer their reviews of your pharmacy online? 

    Where Do Customers Post Reviews Online?

    Many of the same sites we recommend for local search optimization also allow visitors to review businesses.  See what’s being said about your pharmacy at:

    Yelp.com™

    Google Places™

    CitySearch.com™

    There are also many local review sites. Search for your pharmacy online to find more directories that list your agency.

    Improve your reviews! Reach out to your customer’s and ask them to write a review of your pharmacy if they’ve had a positive experience. 

    Should You Be Worried About Bad Reviews?

    Yes, but not as much as you might think.  Getting a negative review is exceptionally rare, and most consumers see 3- or 4-star reviews as still positive and a reason to trust you.

    That said, if a customer puts a negative review out there about your pharmacy, you want to address it immediately.  Each site has its own rules for this – check with the site first before you respond.

    Addressing and Overcoming Negative Comments

    As a business, you have no choice but to be aware of and to manage what people are saying about you online. The last thing you want is a bad review of your business online that everyone, but you is aware of.

    Addressing negative comments

    You should have the option to respond privately to the commenter, and this is often the best way to deal with an issue. Check with the site on the appropriate means to respond (each site has its own processes in place for this).

    Ask the commenter, “What can we do to make this right?” If you can address their concern, they may remove their comment, or replace it with a new post about what a positive experience they had after your conversation.

    Don’t argue. If the review upsets you, wait until you can respond politely.

    If all else fails, keep perspective. The anonymity of the Internet can bring out the worst in people.

    Overcoming negative comments

    The Web rewards new material. If a negative commenter can’t be satisfied, asking satisfied clients to post positive reviews may mitigate the negative impact. Remember also that new reviews are almost always shown above older reviews, so be proactive and get the good news out there!

    DO: Ask your customers to post more positive comments.

    DO: Link to positive articles, press releases, etc.

    DON’T: Post false compliments to generate positive publicity. If you are caught, and you may be, you could cause substantial damage to your reputation.

    DON’T: Overreact to negative posts. If a commenter can’t be satisfied, you’ll likely be better off to let it go and focus on making sure the next customer is a happy one. 

  • 9 Mar 2018 8:35 PM | Anonymous


    rxrs.com

    What to look for in a Pharmaceutical Reverse Distributor

    Do you have unsold or expired medications and drugs in your inventory?

    You should send them to pharmaceutical reverse distribution companies to make money out of them. Even when you don’t get refunded for the full drug acquisition cost, the payment you receive will be enough to ease the pain and negative effects of a total business loss on your bottom line.

    Thanks to a reverse distributor for pharmaceutical products, unsold and expired drugs are not a total loss. Not all pharmaceutical returns services are created equal since some companies may offer more by the way of cash refunds than others.

    Some pharmaceutical reverse distribution processes are also easier and more convenient than others, thus, the need to find the right pharmaceutical returns companies. With all the service providers available today, the task can be daunting choosing the best one.

    But why not look for a pharmaceutical returns provider that offers quality services and cost savings? There are several factors that differentiate good pharmaceutical reverse distributors from the not.

    Factors That Make a Reliable Pharmaceutical Reverse Distributor

    ·      Efficient and straightforward services

    With all the confusing terms and processes in the pharmaceutical industry, the last thing you want is to try to navigate through a maze of pharmaceutical returns services. There should be at least one simple and straightforward process in the pharmacy business, right?

    There is if you can find a reverse distributor for pharmaceutical products with your convenience and benefits in mind.

    Rx Return Services (RxRS), for example, keeps their services to just 3 – traditional pharmaceutical returns, quick cash program, and destruction program. The second option is the most convenient if you qualify for the program. Your refund will be expedited even before the obsolete products you returned are processed.

    ·      Consistent savings 

    Look for a pharmaceutical reverse distributor with a high success rate of recovering the maximum amount of cash credit for pharmacies and drug retailers. The goal is to make money from products or processes that would have cost you nothing if not for the pharmaceutical returns industry. This is why a guarantee of consistent savings is crucial when choosing a pharmaceutical product returns company.

    ·      Hassle-free process

    How does the returns process work? The answer should be easy, involves only a few steps, and quick to complete. For instance, a reverse distributor will receive and scan obsolete products to identify their return eligibility all in the first point of contact.

    Your best choice is a company that has built valuable partnerships in the pharmaceutical returns industry, enabling them to achieve fast turnaround times without sacrificing quality of service and regulatory compliance.

    ·      Fully compliant quality service

    Look for a pharmaceutical reverse distributor that is DFEA licensed, fully compliant with regulatory requirements, and has a DFEA compliant and approved facility for processing and disposal of controlled substances and other obsolete pharmaceutical products.

    You should also check if the staff who will receive, process, and dispose of pharmaceutical returns are honest, professional, and reliable as these indicate quality pharmaceutical returns services.

    ·      Technological tools and capabilities

    The best reverse distributor will find ways to expedite the pharmaceutical reverse distribution process by leveraging technological and digital advancement. By using drug pricing analytics, database tools, logistics and transportation platforms makes the return process quicker and keeps the costs low.

    Author:

    Daniel Vizel, Pharm.D | President

    Rx Return Services

    www.rxrs.com

    Sales Office – 727-754-7848

    Sign Up For An Account

  • 9 Mar 2018 7:53 PM | Anonymous


    What Are Pharmaceutical Returns?

    Any unused or expired drugs should be collected from the public before they are disposed of improperly – thrown in the garbage or poured down the sewers and drains, without any thought of possible consequences. Some medication could contaminate the water source or cause sickness. Accidental ingestion can also mean a trip to the ER or, in worse cases, death.

    It’s a different story for pharmaceutical returns as retailers and pharmacies that participate in the medications disposal program will be paid for by the industry. This is why drug retailers should take advantage of pharmaceutical returns services to make money from medication that was not sold and have reached their expiration date.

    Pharmaceutical product returns generally cover all prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications in oral dosage form, and natural health products in oral dosage form. Depending on the pharmaceutical returns policy, returns program may also include anti-fungal creams, anti-bacterial creams, inhalers, and patches.

    What is usually not collected includes expired samples from doctor offices, pharmaceuticals from farms/hospitals, and sharps, syringes, or needles. There also rules for pharmaceutical stock returns that are still placed in their original bottle, blister packs, loose pills, and the like.

    Benefits of Pharmaceutical Returns Services

    • Recover a percentage of drug acquisition spending rather than mark it as a business loss
    • Make money from medications that are unsold, unused, or expired
    • Enjoy quick cash returns, depending on the pharmaceutical returns policy
    • Keep better control of your inventory
    • Take advantage of hassle-free returns programs for pharmacies of all types
    • Eliminate the hassle of drug disposal and destruction if you were to do them yourself


    Through pharmaceutical returns, a pharmacy not only makes money from unused and expired medications, but also does their share in ensuring the safety of the public and the environment.

    Why Take Advantage of the Rx Returns Services (RxRS)

    With over 20 years of experience in the pharmaceutical industry, Rx Return Services  has a thorough understanding of how the reverse distribution process works and its many channels.

    The company handles physical processing, financial transaction and disposal of expired fulls, partials, recalls, in-dated pharmaceutical products, etc. Their pharmaceutical returns services are also provided to all pharmacy types.

    They offer pharmacies three services – traditional returns, quick cash program, and destruction program.

    Traditional returns

    RxRS connects you to the right parties when processing your return request to ensure that you get the highest possible return for the obsolete products and process your return. All the while, they will receive your expired medication and ensure it will be disposed of properly.

    Quick cash program

    Qualified customers looking for an expedited refund for pharmaceutical product returns can take advantage of Rx Return Services’ WE PAY PROGRAM” / “QUICK CASH”. Even before returns are processed, a quick payment will be made to the customer. RxRS would still provide a detailed report and receive obsolete products for proper storage and disposal. Refer to them about customer qualification for this particular program.

    Destruction program

    After pharmaceutical stock returns, RxRS will receive all unusable items and destroy them in an efficient and safe way in a destruction site that is fully compliant to the rules of pharmaceutical returns and disposal.

    As one of the leading pharmaceutical returns companies, RxRS offers quality service, hassle-free process, and consistent savings to pharmacies.

    Author:

    Daniel Vizel, Pharm.D | President

    Rx Return Services

    www.rxrs.com

    Sales Office – 727-754-7848

    Sign Up For An Account

  • 1 Mar 2018 3:03 PM | Anonymous


    PioneerRx to Host the American Pharmacy Purchasing Alliance (APPA) National Convention, PharmaCon Expo

    Independent pharmacy owners and pharmacists to convene at the 2nd Annual APPA convention, where value meets affordability.

     

    Orlando, FL: March 1, 2018 – PioneerRx is the official event host for the 2nd annual American Pharmacy Purchasing Alliance (APPA) national convention, PharmaCon Expo.

    PharmaCon Expo will be held in June 8-9, 2018 at the Rosen Centre Hotel in Orlando, FL. The event will attract independent pharmacy owners, pharmacy buyers and pharmacists who will have the opportunity to enhance their company profile and increase visibility among the leaders in the pharmaceutical industry.

    PioneerRx is a leading provider of pharmacy software whose ultimate goal of development is to help independent pharmacies make more money.

    “PioneerRx’s management software is revolutionizing community pharmacy. We are excited to be hosting this year’s PharmaCon Expo where we can equip community pharmacists with the resources and provide the support they need to expand their patient care services,” says Jeff Key, PioneerRx President.

    The conference will feature several activities among them an education day, an industry hospitality party, with several giveaways, raffles, and a grand prize.

    In addition, APPA will host a golf tournament on Thursday, June 7th at Shingle Creek Golf Club.

    “Throw on your jeans and plan to sparkle at these fun-filled events! Dazzle, dance, and network the night away.

    Key Note speakers at the PharmaCon will include Michael Castagna from Mannkind Corp, Larry Twersky from TimerCap & 1-800 Dentist founder, and Suzette DiMascio, CHE, CMCE, CPC, CEO of the CSI Specialty Group. 

    This year’s PharmaCon will provide quality education and networking for pharmaceutical professionals.

    APPA Members will be able to contribute to the content, help plan the conference or attend to enhance their professional development.

    For more information about PharmaCon go to: https://joinappa.com/events

    For more information about the golf tournament: https://joinappa.com/Golf-Tournament

    In you are looking for effective and efficient pharmaceutical purchasing strategies that will conform to health care reforms and new hospital and health systems, then join APPA at: https://joinappa.com/Join-us


    About PioneerRx

    Developed with the experience of over 35 years of pharmacy software development and support, PioneerRx was built from scratch to provide the pharmacy community with a solution that can grow as the industry changes for the next 35 years. PioneerRx delivers weekly improvements and cutting edge features that are designed to provide speed, simplicity, consistency and flexibility, however, their ultimate goal of development is to help pharmacies make more money. Leading the industry in first to market functionality in one seamlessly integrated package, PioneerRx Pharmacy Software has become one of the most successful and frequently talked about pharmacy systems in the United States. For more information please visit: http://www.pioneerrx.com

     

    About American Pharmacy Purchasing Alliance 

    The American Pharmacy Purchasing Alliance is a leading pharmacy purchasing association dedicated to serving the needs of its members through education, networking, and the delivery of a unified voice for all participants in the pharmacy purchasing industry. Through ongoing collaboration, our alliance creates an environment that encourages the exchange of ideas and information, increases productivity through new technology, and furthers legislation designed to benefit our industry. For more information, visit: https://joinappa.com/ 

    ---

    Contact: Philip Woods

    Media Relations

    Phone: 877-570-2665

    Email: info@joinappa.com

  • 11 Jan 2018 5:32 PM | Anonymous

    Are DIR Fees Putting Independent Pharmacies Out Of Business?

    The rate of therapeutic drug use in the U.S. has steadily climbed over the years as more people fall ill and seek medical help. This increase should have resulted to a healthy economy among those in the pharmacy business, but what’s happening in real life is actually the opposite. Many independent pharmacies are struggling to make ends meet, and some even decide to close their doors since their losses are too great to recoup.

     

    This is caused by a lot of factors, but one of the biggest culprits is direct and indirect remuneration or DIR fees. These started out as a legitimate charge levied by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). But, over time, they have evolved to describe arrangements between pharmacies, Medicare Part D plan providers, and pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs). Today, DIR fees are so steep that pharmacies — particularly independent ones — are struggling to pay them, with some barely breaking even and others even ending up in the red.

     

    DIR FEES AND MEDICARE PART D

    So where did DIR fees come from? As mentioned above, it was coined by CMS to make it easier for them to monitor the amount of rebates and other types of price adjustments that drug manufacturers place on their products. These adjustments need to be calculated since they can greatly impact the overall cost of medications under Medicare Part D, and the savings they can provide are passed from PBMs to CMS.

     

    It’s important to note that DIR fees are charged retroactively. CMS requires PBMs and plan providers to submit DIR reports on a yearly basis. The agency then uses these reports in conjunction with Prescription Drug Event data to reconcile costs and see if they’re paying the right amounts to Medicare Part D plans.

     

    A lot of people ask if DIR fees are legal. Well, in the case of CMS, the fees are legal since they’re intended to help the agency maximize its savings and reduce the overall cost of healthcare. The problem lies in the fact that plans and PBMs eventually used the term “DIR fees” to refer to the fees that they charge pharmacies.

     

    DIR FEES FROM PBMS AND PLAN PROVIDERS

    Today, “DIR fees” can mean a wide range of things, depending on the type of charges that plans and PBMs want to levy. In some cases, they can refer to the amount that a pharmacy must pay to join the network of a plan or PBM and be considered a “preferred pharmacy”. They can also refer to payment reconciliation, i.e. settling the difference between the projected medication costs and the actual costs.

     

    DIR fees can even refer to the reimbursement that’s given to pharmacies for meeting certain performance metrics as well as to the fees levied to pharmacies that don’t meet these metrics. Many plans and PBMs consider the performance of each pharmacy in terms of refill rates, preferred product rates, audit error rates, and other factors. If pharmacies fall short on one or more of these metrics, they’ll most likely find themselves receiving less than what had been promised to them.

     

    The Positive Side of DIR Fees

    Plans and PBMs defend their version of DIR fees, saying that these help lower healthcare costs. Payment reconciliation, for example, allows them to pay for the exact price of the drugs and nothing else, which means they can save money down the road and keep down the costs of Medicare Part D plans. This, in turn, gives people access to low-cost plans that would fit their budget.

     

    They also point out that, since DIR fees are given retroactively, they require pharmacies, PBMs, and plan providers to do thorough auditing and ensure they’re submitting the right data. This helps them easily spot any fraudulent transactions and prevent these from happening in the first place.

     

    The Negative Side Of DIR Fees

    Unfortunately, despite these good intentions, DIR fees end up doing more harm than good. Pharmacies are assessed for these fees on a monthly, quarterly, or even annual basis, which means there’s a long stretch of time between the point of sale and the day they receive their assessment. This “lag time” makes it difficult for pharmacies to clearly evaluate how much reimbursement they should receive and/or calculate the exact amount they should pay to PBMs.

     

    Of course, it’s important to note that many PBMs and plan providers abuse the concept of DIR fees. For instance, they set high estimated costs at the beginning of the year so they can charge high premiums. The costs are ultimately reconciled at the end of the year, but the companies are essentially getting an interest-free loan from the CMS.

     

    Some even go a step further by tying payments to performance metrics then determining what these metrics are after the claims are paid. This is unfair since it prevents pharmacies from knowing exactly what quality measures they should be striving for. It also allows plan providers and PBMs to reduce the amount they would pay to pharmacies if the latter don’t meet the metrics.

     

    Even if PBMs and plan providers don’t abuse their power, the fact remains that the retroactive nature of DIR fees make it difficult for pharmacists to map their future. Since they don’t know how much their revenue stream would be, they find it hard to make business plans and decide where they would take their venture in the coming months and years.

     

    WHAT NEEDS TO BE DONE

    So what can independent pharmacies do to combat DIR fees? Well, the most obvious choice is to avoid signing up for a preferred network (or opting out if they have already joined one). However, this isn’t the ideal solution since it would increase the co-pays that their customers would have to pay and limit the target audience they can serve.

     

    The best thing that pharmacists can do is to support bipartisan legislation that would get rid of retroactive DIR fees and help improve the transparency in Medicare Part D spending. If passed, H.R. 5951 and its companion legislation Senate Bill 3308 will prevent PBMs from unduly changing their reimbursements whenever they want. This, in turn, ensures that pharmacies know exactly how much they’ll earn at the point of sale.

  • 2 Jan 2018 5:37 PM | Anonymous


    Pharmacy Benefit Managers: The Mafia Of The Pharmaceutical Industry

    The healthcare costs in the United States have steadily risen over the years. This has made it almost impossible for ordinary people to obtain early and ongoing medical attention, properly manage their health conditions, and stay away from serious illnesses and even death that could otherwise have been avoided. This increase can be attributed to many factors but, in terms of the rise of pharmaceutical costs, a lot of the blame can be piled on pharmacy benefit managers.

     

    These organizations (which are better known as PBMs) were originally formed in the 1960s to help process the prescription transactions of health plans. Over the years, their scope has expanded to include other services. Now, many PBMs are in charge of creating and updating formularies, liaising with drug manufacturers and partner pharmacies, managing patient compliance programs, and doing other tasks.

     

    On the surface, it would seem that pharmacy benefit managers are assisting employers and insurers in reducing their expenses while helping patients get the prescriptions they need at lower prices. But, if you look closer, you’ll realize that things aren’t what they really seem: the organizations that were designed to help people have transformed themselves into the PBM Mafia.

     

    PBMs and Overcharging

    Perhaps one of the most corrupt practices of the PBM Cartel is overcharging. PBMs have the power to instruct pharmacies on how much copay they should charge customers; if a PBM decides to charge sky-high copay, pharmacies can do nothing but obey. Customers, on their part, have no choice but to pay, just so they can have their prescriptions filled.

     

    Earnings from copay don’t stay in pharmacies, though. Pharmacy benefit managers can take back a portion of the customers’ copay after they have determined how much they would pay the drugstores. Sometimes, pharmacies are left with enough money to enjoy a profit; other times, they’re left with barely enough to cover the cost of purchasing and dispensing the drug.

     

    Other Dubious Practices

    Aside from charging exorbitant copay amounts and underpaying pharmacies, the PBM Mafia can earn from many other ways. They can get huge discounts from drug manufacturers but refuse to pass on these savings to the insurers and patients. They can also reimburse pharmacies a certain rate for a certain type of drug, then charge employers and insurers a higher rate for the same drug — keeping the difference between the two amounts for themselves.

     

    They can even accept deals from manufacturers to keep a certain drug on health plan formularies. Manufacturers usually need to pay a substantial amount to PBMs to push this deal through, but they can recoup this investment later on since customers under the health plan will be forced to buy their product. For the PBM Cartel and big pharma companies, it’s a win-win situation.

     

    The PBM Mafia has the opportunity to pull these stunts simply because there are virtually no laws that regulate their actions. There are a few rules in place, but many companies simply find a way around them. Because of these, a lot of PBMs can include and exclude drugs from formularies whenever they want and change their pricing structure at will — leaving insurers, employers, and patients virtually helpless.

     

    What Can We Do About It?

    The Congress is currently looking into pharmacy benefit managers and will hopefully come up with laws that will regulate how these organizations behave. While waiting for these regulations, pharmacies, insurers, and employers can demand transparency from the PBM cartel they work with and perhaps even switch to smaller PBMs that charge a flat fee and have a transparent pricing model.

  • 1 Jan 2018 5:39 PM | Anonymous


    Learning More About The Largest Pharmaceutical GPO’s In The Country

     

    “There’s power in numbers.” You’ve probably heard this phrase thousands of times and think of it as a cliché. However, this statement has never been truer particularly when it comes to the pharmaceutical industry, and it’s brought to life by group purchasing organizations or GPO’s.

     

    Pharmaceutical GPO's allows independent pharmacies to group together and use their numbers to buy drugs at lower prices. This, in turn, helps them reduce their overheads and maximize their profits. GPO’s can even use their power to negotiate discounts from drug manufacturers and demand fair treatment and transparent prices, which can further help individual pharmacies in improving their business.

     

    GPO’s are also greatly helpful when there are drug shortages. On their own, pharmacies have no choice but to either pay higher rates for drugs that are low on stock or quit including these drugs in their product line. But, if they’re a part of a GPO, they’ll have someone who will look for alternative drugs, secure exclusive deals with manufacturers, or even help manufacturers to look obtain raw materials and speed up the production of these drugs.

     

    Over the years, many pharmacists have realized the importance of belonging to a group purchasing organizations, and this has resulted to the increase in the number of pharmaceutical GPO's in the country as well as to their rise in popularity. There are more or less than 600 GPO’s serving the healthcare industry, although it’s important to note that not all of them are created equal and that some of them offer better services than others.

     

    Two of the largest GPO’s in the country are MedAssets and Novation. MedAssets had more than 500,000 affiliate beds in 2013, and it served more than 4,000 hospitals and over 120,000 non-acute healthcare providers. Novation had almost 300,000 affiliate beds in 2013 and was handling over 600 suppliers with contracts worth $49 billion, and it was named as one of the World's Most Ethical Companies in 2014. MedAssets and Novation now both belong to the same parent company Vizient, which is one of the leading healthcare services company in the U.S.

     

    Another excellent GPO is Amerinet, which has almost 400,000 affiliate beds. Established in 1986, the company had four subsidiaries that focused on different fields like non-acute marketplace solutions and healthcare market analysis. Amerinet has rebranded itself as Intalere in 2016 and remains to be one of the leaders in the industry.

     

    Still anther great option is PBA Health, which offers a wholesaler negotiation service called ProfitGuard. It provides a set of business intelligence tools that help you manage your purchases, maximize your rebates, and ensure you get the best possible value for your money. Many pharmacists swear by ProfitGuard, pointing out that the service has helped them greatly especially in seeking out new generic drugs and choosing those that are available at the most reasonable prices.

     

    These are some of the largest pharmaceutical GPO's in the market. They’re definitely not the only options out there, but they’re a good place to begin particularly if you’re new to the world of group purchasing. Do your research now to see which GPO best suits your needs!

  • 22 Dec 2017 5:34 PM | Anonymous


    Walgreen's Surprises Medical Cannabis Advocates?

    The subject of medical cannabis has been a source of widespread debate for decades. This has become even more true in April 2016, when pharmacy giant Walgreen's published a blog post entitled “Clarifying Clinical Cannabis”.

     

    Walgreen’s post defines medical cannabis, lists the illnesses and conditions it can help manage, and outlines its various methods of administration. It also explains how the substance affects the body, what its potential side effects are, and how patients can get a prescription for it. The article even talks about why the use of clinical cannabis has been debated for so long, pointing out that it’s associated with negative effects but has also been discovered to help with appetite improvement, muscle stiffness, and pain relief.

     

    The blog post, which was written by Dahlia Sultan (a resident pharmacist at Walgreen's and the University of Illinois-Chicago) surprised many medical cannabis advocates. The fact alone that Walgreen's decided to talk about this topic was a shock, considering that many corporations either decline to comment about it or avoid the subject altogether.

     

    A lot of people were also astonished at the neutral tone of Walgreen’s blog post and the informative approach it took. Many took this as a good sign, since the post doesn’t only open the doors for discussion but also educates patients that opioid painkillers are not the only option. In fact, the blog post states, “If you’d like more information about the use of medical marijuana.” This is an important message since a lot of patients nowadays are dealing with chronic pain, but their doctors are hesitant to suggest clinical cannabis.

     

    Alan Brochstein of New Cannabis Ventures sums up the thoughts of many medical cannabis advocates by saying, “I can’t recall any S&P 500 company ever sharing such a supportive view.” This is particularly even more significant for Walgreen's which, as Brochstein points out, is actively involved in the lives of patients and is considered to be a reliable source of healthcare advice.

     

    Pharmacies and Medical Cannabis

    Another interesting sentence from Walgreen's blog post is its disclaimer that the company is “not a licensed medical marijuana provider.” According to Ricardo Baca of The Cannabist, Walgreens might have recognized that pharmacies may soon get the permit to be a legal supplier. This is especially true now that prescription drugs made of cannabis derivatives are working toward getting an FDA permit. Brochstein also asks if Walgreen's has smelled a huge opportunity, considering that Canadian pharmacies have stated that they want to be a part of the medical cannabis program.

     

    It might be true that Walgreen's wants to cash in on the clinical cannabis trend and is taking steps toward getting the license to sell the substance. However, this doesn’t change the fact that, as of the moment, pharmacies in the U.S. are not allowed to supply this substance — even in states where the use of medical and recreational cannabis is already allowed. Any pharmacist who disobeys this rule will lose his or her license and will no longer be allowed to dispense controlled substances to patients.

     

    There are many reasons why U.S. pharmacies are not allowed to dispense medical cannabis. One of the biggest reasons is that pharmacies are required to sell only drugs that are approved by the Food and Drug Administration. Cannabis, unfortunately, is a long way from getting FDA approval.

     

    In fact, it’s stuck in a catch-22: it’s classified as a Schedule I substance, which means it has a high potential for abuse and has “no currently accepted medical use”. (Heroin is another substance placed under this category.) This makes it difficult for researchers to study cannabis and identify its medical uses, which would have helped remove it from Schedule I and downgrade it to a less severe schedule.

     

    Because of this classification, researchers find it hard to get grants and even obtain cannabis plants to experiment on. This means that they can’t put cannabis through the standard drug development research process, like what commercially available medications have gone through. This process is important since it would have allowed scientists to study the potentially active chemicals in the plant and understand how they interact with each other and with other substances. These information, in turn, can help reduce the public stigma of cannabis and convince the government, the healthcare system, and patients that medical cannabis is a viable treatment option.

     

    It’s also important to note that many Big Pharma companies are not interested in creating FDA-approved drugs based on cannabis — simply because it doesn’t have a lot of earning potential. They can’t claim ownership of cannabis outright since it’s impossible to patent a plant. This means they’d have to spend time and money on developing an extraction process for one of cannabis’s active chemicals then file a patent for that process. However, even this won’t give them protection since other companies can still extract the chemical using virtually the same procedure with slight variations.

     

    The legalization of medical and recreational cannabis use has also discouraged Big Pharma from pushing the matter forward. After all, if people can easily buy the substance from dispensaries, why would they opt for more expensive versions? This lack of assurance in a stable market has resulted to a slowdown in the development of FDA-approved cannabis-based drugs.

     

    The Future of Medical Cannabis

    Fortunately, the future of clinical cannabis isn’t bleak. Many organizations and companies are swimming against the current to learn more about the plant and its active chemicals and discover how they can be used in the medical setting. British company GW Pharmaceuticals has been studying a drug called Sativex, which is made of THC and CBD (the two major chemicals from cannabis). The Multidisciplinary Association of Psychedelic Studies, meanwhile, wants to compare cannabis smoking and vaporizing to see which is the safer administration method.

     

    Some countries have also realized that dispensing drugs through pharmacies is a smart step to take. The Canadian Pharmacy Association, for example, has expressed its belief that pharmacies provide the safest means of dispensing cannabis, compared to dispensaries and compassion clubs. This approach will hopefully spread to the United States and eventually make it possible for the substance to be sold in pharmacies.

     

    Organizations are even providing training to help people become more knowledgeable in the clinical use of cannabis. One of these is Americans For Safe Access, which has created the Medical Cannabis Advocate's Training Center for those who want to learn more about citizen lobbying, grassroots campaigning, and other activities.


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