Monday’s Reads: CVS Caremark Privacy Issues; Caterpillar Adds Independents; Adherence Tool Used in NH; 2010 Retail Pharmacy Outlook

NCPA and several consumer and privacy groups are asking the feds to investigate alleged privacy violations by CVS Caremark. Read more here.

Caterpillar, Inc. adds some independent pharmacies back to its network for 2010. The My Dose Alert adherence program is winning over customers at two New Hampshire pharmacies. An analyst offers predictions on the 2010 outlook for retail pharmacies. And USA TODAY publishes NCPA’s response to a misleading Tamiflu story.

Excerpts of and links to these stories are available below:

Cat to keep some independent pharmacies at least another year

By PAUL GORDON of the Journal Star, Nov 18, 2009

PEORIA — Pete Johnson was facing a tough year in 2010 at the pharmacy he owns in Wyoming, a store started by his father more than 80 years ago.

He wasn’t sure he’d be able to survive, in fact, considering as much as 25 percent of his business came from Caterpillar Inc. employees and retirees – business Caterpillar was poised to take from him in favor of agreements it reached with Wal-Mart and Walgreen’s.
“I feel we got a reprieve,” Johnson said Wednesday after confirming he’s been told his store will be retained in the Caterpillar network at least through 2010. “I’m thrilled, naturally, but I feel bad for some of my cohorts closer to Peoria that may lose their stores.”

Johnson’s was one of several independent pharmacies in small towns not within a “reasonable distance” from a Wal-Mart or Walgreen’s to be informed this week and last that they will stay in the Caterpillar network at least another year.

In October, Caterpillar mailed letters to employees and retirees informing them they would receive discounts on prescription medications by going to Wal-Mart or Walgreen’s, beginning Jan. 1, 2010

Read the story here.

Two Nashua pharmacies use technology to prompt patrons to take medication

By ALBERT McKEON Staff Writer, The Nashua Telegraph, November 22, 2009

A pharmacist can’t stay by your side to remind you when to take medication.

But a new service offered by two Nashua pharmacists perhaps does the next best thing. The program sends messages by e-mail, phone or text with reminders that it’s time to take a pill.

Rice’s Pharmacy and Wingate’s Pharmacy started using My Dose Alert two weeks ago and have already heard raves from customers, the owners of the two pharmacies said.

Read more here.

Drug retail sales forecast sees modest growth for ’10

by Russell Redman, Chain Drug Review, November 20th, 2009

NEW YORK – Ongoing softness in front-of-store business likely will rein in sales growth for drug retailers next year, according to a 2010 U.S. retail outlook report released this week by Fitch Ratings.

The rating agency forecast top-line growth at drug stores to “remain steady or improve modestly” in 2010. It pegged overall prescription sales growth at about 2% annually, noting that front-end weakness will partially offset pharmacy sales gains.

“The wild card for drug retailers is what the outcome will be from the health care reform initiatives in Congress,” the report pointed out. “Should reform be enacted, the possibility for reimbursement pressure exists, although this could be partially or fully offset by volume increases on increased drug utilization.”

Read more here.

Pharmacists are helping

Joseph H. Harmison, president, National Community Pharmacists Association – Arlington, Texas :

Since the onset of H1N1 flu and the shortage of Tamiflu to treat it, community pharmacists have worked overtime to stretch the supply by making multiple liquid doses for children from adult capsules. A recent article overlooked a prime factor behind price variations in pharmacist-compounded Tamiflu (“Adding insult to illness: H1N1 drug prices vary widely for same dose,” News, Wednesday).

Incredibly, pharmacists pay the same price for Tamiflu capsules, whether the capsules contain 75mg of the drug or 30mg. Compounding a five-day supply from the strongest pills can cost the pharmacy about $40 for the active ingredient; getting that much from lower dose pills can run $100. That does not include liquid mixers, such as cherry syrup, or pharmacy overhead costs.

During this health emergency, community pharmacists have helped provide relief to countless children and their parents. We appreciate the Food and Drug Administration’s recent acknowledgement of the pharmacists’ important role in compounding medications. Their efforts should be celebrated, not criticized.

Read it here.

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