Tag Archives: pharmacists

Many older adults struggle with high drug costs

How can older adults save money on the high cost of prescription medication? It could be as simple as talking to their doctor or pharmacist — but a new survey finds that many aren’t having that conversation, and therefore not getting the help they need to find lower-cost solutions. Continue reading

Network to warn pharmacists of drug errors

The Wall Street Journal‘s Laura Landro spotlighted a new national network designed to send e-mail alerts to as many as 55,000 pharmacists.

The network is designed to alert pharmacists of dangerous and life-threatening errors as well as to educate them on how to prevent those specific errors from also occurring in their own respective practices. The system is intended to help the same errors from being repeated time after time across the country.

medsPhoto by jypsygen via Flickr.

Landro wrote that “Medication errors cause at least one death every day and injure approximately 1.3 million people annually in the United States,” and added that there are some indications that the weakening economy has had a negative impact on medication safety.

Here’s Landro explaining the new network:

The non-profit Institute for Safe Medication Practices, which is certified by the federal government to collect error reports and other information about quality breaches, and the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists are launching a new National Alert Network for Serious Medication Errors. The network, which was unveiled last month, will be used to send email alerts to 35,000 pharmacists working in hospitals and health systems, as well as physicians and nurses, when a dangerous or life-threatening error is reported to ISMP. The two organizations are also in discussions to extend the network to as many as 26 other organizations that promote safe medication use. The hope is that widely spreading the word about such errors will cause doctors and pharmacists to be more cautious—and ultimately prevent future mix-ups. Relevant alerts will also be sent to 20,000 drugstore pharmacists.

Landro also mentioned ISMP’s consumer med safety alert portal and the FDA’s consumer-focused error reporting tool. She also goes into greater detail as to how drug mishaps happen, and into what can be done to prevent them.


Will pharmacists play a role in H1N1 vaccinations?

In some states, pharmacists can administer influenza vaccinations. However, laws do differ from state to state. Some states allow pharmacists – who must be certified – to give flu shots based on an established protocol agreed upon with a physician. Other states, such as Oklahoma (until Nov. 1), require patients to obtain a prescription from a doctor before a pharmacist can administer a vaccine.

The differing standards and regulations have the potential of creating barriers to access for vaccinations, something that should be of concern as the H1N1 vaccine makes its way to health care providers.H1N1

In Oklahoma, for example, I saw about a dozen people arrive at a pharmacy counter for their flu shots, only to be told they had to get a prescription. Those people left the pharmacy, presumably to visit their doctor, a visit that likely required a co-pay or other payment. Every time someone left, I had to wonder whether they would follow through and return with a prescription. In my case, I went to a walk-in clinic where I only waited a few minutes – though I had to fill out several forms – then had my vitals recorded and answered a series of questions, first from a nurse and then from the doctor. I then returned to the pharmacy, filled out more forms very similar to what I had completed for the doctor and waited until the pharmacist was available to give me a flu shot. The whole process took about two hours – time that many people can’t afford to spend.

Presumably, states are allowing pharmacists to give influenza vaccinations to increase the public’s access and boost immunizations. But are the regulations guiding such vaccinations working or are different barriers being created? It remains to be seen whether pharmacists will be giving H1N1 vaccinations, but a number of organizations are discussing the possibility.

Carolyn C. Ha, Pharm.D., of the National Community Pharmacists Association, has provided a state-by-state breakdown of requirements for pharmacist-provided immunizations.

The Association of State and Territorial Health Officials recently released an “Operational Framework for Partnering with Pharmacies for Administration of 2009 H1N1 Vaccine” that includes information about requirements in each state. (contact: Paula A. Steib, senior director communications, Association of State and Territorial Health Officials, 202-371-9090 ext. 3173)

The American Pharmacists Association has provided information about vaccine distribution. The organization is working with the National Association of Chain Drug Stores, the National Community Pharmacists Association, state associations, CDC, and the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials to get pharmacies included in each state’s 2009 H1N1 influenza virus immunizing program.

The CDC’s has contact information for state/jurisdiction officials and guidelines for clinicians. The CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices also will have information about H1N1 vaccinations.

For more about the certification process for pharmacists, read “Incorporating an Immunization Certificate Program into the Pharmacy Curriculum,” from the American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education and from the American Pharmacists Association.

Pharmacists could be ‘patient coaches’ for a price

A chance to reform health care is also a chance for some folks to make a case for a bigger share of the money sloshing around in the system.

Photo by JasonTromm via Flickr

The Chicago Tribune’s Bruce Japsen reports on Walgreen CEO Greg Wasson’s idea to turn his drugstore chain’s 25,000-plus pharmacists into coaches for patients — for a price.

Half of patients stop talking their medicine after four or five months. Those lapses cost the health system big bucks on care that could have been avoided. Wasson’s pitch: Pay my pharmacists to consult with patients and keep them on the right path.

Pharmacies get about $2 to $4 to dispense a prescription, but the cost, according to Walgreen, is more like $10 each. No estimate on the price tag for mobilizing pharmacists as patient coaches across the country, but a pilot test of the approach in diabetics saved money, the Tribune writes.