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Pharmacy News Online: CVS/pharmacy Encourages Consumers to Consult With Pharmacists

CVS/pharmacy Encourages Consumers to Consult With Pharmacists

Nearly half of Americans take at least one prescription drug per month(1), according the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, yet many do not take advantage of the one healthcare professional who can be the most helpful when it comes to their medications: their pharmacist.

CVS/pharmacy is reminding consumers about the importance of pharmacist consultations and the critical role pharmacists play in managing ongoing medications for chronic illnesses, especially when starting a new medication. In its most recent initiative, CARE 1on1™, CVS/pharmacy offers patients dedicated one-on-one time with a pharmacist to discuss savings, safety and side effects when their prescription is transferred or filled for the first time.

Up to 50 percent of chronically ill people stop taking their medication within the first year. Pharmacists understand many of the contributing factors, which range from cost and side effects to the inherent challenges of taking multiple medications, and can help address them. In fact, CVS Caremark research shows a pharmacist in a face-to-face setting is the most effective healthcare professional at encouraging patients to take medications as prescribed.

“Patients with chronic health issues like asthma, or chronic diseases like diabetes, often take more than one medication – each with its own set of directions and possible side effects,” says Papatya Tankut, R.Ph., Vice President of Pharmacy Professional Services at CVS Caremark. “Our pharmacists are here to help patients get the most out of their medications once they leave the doctor’s office. Taking the time to speak to a pharmacist about your prescriptions can make a difference in the overall improvement of your health, particularly for those who are starting a new prescription.”

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When patients spend dedicated time with a CVS pharmacist through CARE 1on1™, they will receive a personal review of their new ongoing medication filled at CVS/pharmacy and discuss ways to manage side effects, save money and stick to a medication routine.

CVS/pharmacy offers the following tips for new prescriptions:
Plan your medication schedule: If you are taking more than one medication, ask the pharmacist which ones can be taken together or need to be taken separately.
Make medications part of your daily routine: Take your medications at the same time you do something else every day.
Use organization tools: Remind yourself to take your medicine by posting a sticky note, setting a watch or timer, using a pill organizer or creating a check-off chart. Your CVS pharmacist can recommend the right tool for you.
Speak with your pharmacist about side effects or a missed dose: Although many medications are well tolerated, you may experience mild side effects when your body adjusts to a new medication. Do not stop taking your medication until you speak with your pharmacist. Call or visit your CVS pharmacist if you miss a dose and are unsure of what to do.

Woman who avoided bloodbath after taking day off mourns sister killed at Long Island pharmacy

The heartbroken sister of a teenage pharmacy worker murdered in a Long Island robbery, broke down in tears Monday as she visited the scene of the crime.

Leslie Mejia – who also works at the Haven Pharmacy in Medford but avoided the tragedy by taking Sunday off – was embraced by her father, Rene, as she unleashed a flood of tears.

“She was a great girl. My sister was a good person. She didn’t deserve to die – not like that,” Mejia said of her 17-year-old sibling, Jennifer, who was one of four victims of Sunday morning’s shooting during a robbery gone bad.

“I know she’s an angel. She’s watching over us,” the 16-year-old added before driving off in an SUV.

DEA agents were later spotted combing through the pharmacy.

Residents of the shaken community mourned Monday while praying that the killer would soon be caught.

“It’s a brazen attack on innocent people. It’s a terrible, terrible tragedy,” said Stephanie Meoli-Lauenborg, 39, as she placed a handful of purple and pink wild flowers outside the shuttered Haven Pharmacy in Medford.

The terrifying daylight attack ended with the gunman fatally shooting store employees Raymond Ferguson, 45, and Mejia, and customers Bryon Sheffield, 71, and Jaime Taccetta, 33.

Police say the suspect then made off with prescription drugs and remains at large.

“I’m disgusted,” Meoli-Lauenborg said, as she cradled her 21-month-old daughter, Giada, in her arms. “We’re walking on eggshells. We have our eyes open now, to everybody, and it’s a shame.”

Nearly 2,400 people have signed an online condolence page for Mejia on Facebook.

“You were an angel on earth Jen,” wrote Roger Naughton.”You truly were. I’m going to miss you so much. This still feels like a nightmare that I can’t wake up from.”

A wake will be held for Mejia on Tuesday and Wednesday from 7 p.m.-9 p.m. in Patchogue at the Robertaccio Funeral Home, according to the tribute page.

Mejia, of East Patchogue, wanted to be a doctor one day, her family said. She had been looking forward to graduating from Bellport High School on Thursday.

She had her prom dress all ready, a blue number with spaghetti straps that she had modeled proudly for her family the night before she died.

Taccetta’s devastated relatives said they were too shaken to talk to reporters.

“It’s a terrible loss. My sister passed away. She got murdered and we need our privacy,” said a brother who wouldn’t give his name. “Our family wants a lot of privacy. We don’t want to talk to anybody.”

Police described the suspect as a thin white man, about 5-feet-8, with short, dark hair. He was wearing a white baseball hat, sunglasses, a dark-colored hooded sweatshirt and blue jeans.

“This is a vicious, horrible crime,” said Suffolk County Police Chief of Detectives Dominick Varrone.

Cops found the bodies after a man called from the store’s parking lot to report gunfire.

Jennifer’s father said she liked working at the pharmacy because she intended to go to medical school.

“With this, we lost a good doctor,” he said.

OXIS International Announces Online Registration Now Available for 2011 Ergothioneine Congress

OXIS International, Inc. (OTC Bulletin Board: OXIS; Euronext Paris: OXI) announces that online registration is now open for the “First International Congress on Ergothioneine, Antioxidants & Age Management Medicine” being held Friday, July 15 through Sunday, July 17 at the DeNeve Auditorium on the campus of the University of California Los Angeles.

The Congress is being hosted by the Gerontology Research Group and OXIS International is the major sponsor. This is the first conference ever held on this important subject and will focus on Ergothioneine’s mechanisms of action, health benefits and safety profile, along with potential new applications. More than two dozen presentations will be made by leading researchers and clinicians in the fields of nutrition, age management and oxidative stress. The world-class faculty includes Dr. Penny Kris-Etherton, Esteemed Professor of Nutrition at Pennsylvania State University; Dr. John Repine, Director of the Webb-Waring Institute at the University of Colorado; Dr. Okezie Aruoma, founding faculty member of the Tuoro School of Pharmacy; Dr. L. Steven Coles, Executive Director of the Gerontology Research Group; and Dr. Bruce N. Ames, Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, University of California Berkeley, and a Senior Scientist at Children’s Hospital Oakland Research Institute.

“OXIS International is proud to be a major sponsor of this First International Congress on Ergothioneine,” said Bernie Landes, President of OXIS International. “The Congress has a tremendous lineup of speakers, including keynote presentations by Dr. Stephen Clarke, Director of the Molecular Biology Institute at UCLA and Dr. Alexander Schauss, CEO and Senior Director of Natural and Medicinal Products Research at AIBMR Life Sciences. The complete presentation agenda offers unique value to healthcare professionals, wellness advocates, pharmaceutical scientists, physicians and pharmacists, food scientists and technologists interested in the role of antioxidants in the maintenance of optimal health throughout the natural aging process.”


Antioxidants and Age Management Medicine: First International Congress on Ergothioneine, with a beginning date of July 15, 2011, has been reviewed and is acceptable for up to 13.75 Prescribed credits by the American Academy of Family Physicians. Physicians should claim only the credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity.

AAFP Prescribed credit is accepted by the American Medical Association as equivalent to AMA PRA Category 1 Credit™ toward the AMA Physician’s Recognition Award.

About Ergothioneine

Leading members of the scientific community believe that L-ergothioneine (Ergothioneine) may ultimately be shown to be one of the most powerful and effective antioxidants ever discovered, with numerous applications ranging from the maintenance of vibrant good health to the provision of unique nutritional support in the management of inflammation and oxidative stress, as well as providing profound benefits in skin care formulations. There is continued interest in the use of nutraceutical compounds such as Ergothioneine to support heart health, brain health and immune function, to support healthy aging, protect and enhance the skin, support joint health and vision and provide an enhanced foundation for overall health and wellness. The full range of basic and applied science related to the role of Ergothioneine will be discussed at the Congress.

How Technology is Being Used in New Ways to Sort through the Clutter and Discover Hidden Deals on Prescription Drugs at Retail Pharmacies in your ZIP code

Finding an affordable price on prescription medication has historically been a frustrating experience. This has driven many to unlicensed ‘pharmacies’ in Canada, Mexico and elsewhere and is a risk to public safety. One startup is making it much easier to find and take advantage of surprisingly good deals at retail pharmacies in the U.S. When a customer selects a deal online, a confirmation prints out at the pharmacy and the price is guaranteed.

Dallas, TX (PRWEB) June 20, 2011

Pharmacy customers nationwide can now take advantage of a system called Zip-Price that progressively searches discounted prescription prices at neighborhood retail pharmacies. One of a suite of innovative pharmacy help features available online through technology startup ZipcodeMeds™, the Zip-Price process is optimized to rapidly conduct a robust multi-pronged price search that examines both published discount lists and unpublished secondary deals. In addition, Zip-Price allows the generation of a customized price request that pops up on the screens at multiple pharmacies to spur competitive price quotes. The customer can choose the best one to lock-in online before even stepping foot in the pharmacy. Regardless of the method that the process uses to yield an eventual price, the goal is for that price to be the best possible on that day, in that area and one that the customer can take immediate action on if so desired.

To use Zip-Price, customers simply enter their 5 digit location ZIP code and any medication for which they have a legal prescription. No account is needed to begin the search. Andy Keesler, a member of the Zip-Price development team says “Unlike other pricing solutions, we modeled Zip-Price after the type of process that pharmacy insiders would follow if they had to look for a discount price for themselves. A key insight was that using a single approach rarely produces great results so we designed our system for each request to automatically trigger multiple methods of price search.” From the customer’s single request, the system first scours databases of discount programs at area pharmacies to see if the medication is steeply discounted anywhere. Bayo Adeniyi, a member of the customer and provider insights team explains “These lists are different from one another and are always changing. Wal-Mart pioneered the extremely successful $4 generic program but many people don’t realize that, depending on the medications they take, another pharmacy might have a superior program. In one 5 mile radius in Dallas, TX for example, the market rate for 30 tablets of a long term cholesterol medication like Simvastatin 20mg (generic for Zocor) is $16.84 at Wal-Mart, $37.99 at CVS, and $59.99 at Walgreens. Savon pharmacy in the same 5 mile radius offers the exact same medication for $4.99 if purchased via their $10 lifetime Rxtra savings program and Walgreens’ price just recently dropped to $12.99 if the customer uses their $20 per annum prescription savings club discount program. With the continuous changes in these lists and because of the many companies that now offer one, keeping up with current best pricing on any medication can be an ordeal. By using ZipcodeMeds™, customers will find the best prices available on these programs within 10 seconds.”

If the system does not find a price in the discount program search, it automatically routes the request to the secondary deals pathway where it searches for short-term deals or any listed prices from local pharmacies that stand out for being a significantly good deal. Keesler continues “To ensure that customers have a very high chance of finding a deal, the system automatically routes unsatisfactory pricing results to our unique Zip-Bid pathway. With one-click the customer can generate a personalized on-demand price bid request that instantly pops up on the screen at multiple local pharmacies. Pharmacies evaluate the request quickly and respond with an exact quote that expires by a set time. Customers can select the best bid and lock-in the price online. It’s simple for the customer and convenient for the pharmacy.”

ZipcodeMeds™ recommends the use of manufacturer coupons when available as this could potentially mean getting an expensive medication for free. “Our work on pricing includes a process to inform customers when coupons may be available either from their physician, direct from the manufacturer or online. We also encourage customers to keep using whatever discount card or other non-insurance program that they already use but to never assume that they are paying the lowest price until they compare to the comprehensive results they get on ZipcodeMeds” said an analyst on the team. “The so-called discount cards can be misleading. Many discount cards offer a price of about $19 on 30 tablets of the generic for Bactrim DS (a commonly prescribed antibiotic) when the same drug is only about $4 at many pharmacies that we feature on our website. Even on, a reputable online pharmacy, the lowest price available for 30 tablets of generic Bactrim DS (as of June 2011) is about $19. Using a discount card or online pharmacy in this scenario means you spend almost 400% more but get the false impression that you got a great deal. Spending a few seconds on our site is like putting in hours of quality work verifying that you’re paying a competitive price. What you do after that is up to you but it should be pretty easy to make a smart decision afterwards because numbers simply do not lie.”

Earnings Preview: Walgreen

Walgreen Co. (WAG – Analyst Report) is scheduled to release its third quarter 2011 earnings on Tuesday, June 22, 2011, before the market opens.

The Zacks Consensus Estimate for the third quarter is pegged at 62 cents per share.

The company has already reported total sales of $18.38 billion in the third quarter, up 6.8% from $17.20 billion in the year-ago period. Comparable store sales (those open for more than a year) increased 4.1% during the quarter, while front-end comparable store sales also spiked 3.9%, with prescriptions filled at comparable stores increasing by 4.2%.

Previous Quarter Highlights

Walgreen reported EPS of 80 cents in the fiscal second quarter, in line with the Zacks Consensus Estimate but higher than the year-ago earnings of 68 cents. The prior year’s EPS included restructuring cost and integration costs of a penny each associated with the Duane Reade acquisition.

Net sales for the quarter increased 8.9% year over year to $18.5 billion. While comparable store sales during the quarter increased 4.1%, front-end comparable drugstore sales jumped 4.3%. Prescription sales, accounting for 62.6% of sales in the quarter, leaped 7.7%, while prescription sales in comparable stores increased by 3.9%. Moreover, the company also raised its retail pharmacy market share to 20.1%.

Agreement of analysts

Estimate revision trends among analysts depict a positive bias for the company’s earnings in the third quarter. Over the last 30 days, out of the 20 analysts covering the stock, estimates have been raised by 4 analysts with none moving in the opposite direction.

However, estimate revisions for fiscal 2011 reflect a negative bias. Over the last 30 days, out of the 8 analysts covering the stock, 3 have downgraded estimates for the quarter while none raised their estimates.

Earlier this month, Walgreen completed the divestment of its pharmacy benefit management (PBM) business to Catalyst Health Solutions (CHSI – Analyst Report) for $525 million in cash. Subsequent to this deal, Walgreen will be able to better focus on its 7,700 drug stores.

We are also awaiting more update regarding sales trends, Walgreen’s Customer-Centric Retailing (CCR) initiative and the progress on the Rewiring initiative. At the end of the second quarter, the company converted 1,873 stores and opened 450 new stores with the CCR format.

Walgreen expects to convert 3,200 stores and open approximately 100 new stores with the CCR format by the end of 2011. For the remaining remodels, the company expects to incur costs of approximately $45,000 per store.

Moreover, in order to accelerate its Infusion Pharmacy business, Walgreen decided to limit its presence in the respiratory therapy durable medical equipment (RTDME). In December, the company started the process of selling facilities and currently has sold RTDME operations in six states.

In June 2011, Walgreen completed the acquisition of online retailer for a total enterprise value of $409 million. Walgreen plans to reinvest in this business and expects the transaction to be dilutive by 3 cents per share to fourth quarter of fiscal 2011 earnings.


Analyzing past trends, Walgreen has exceeded estimates in two of the last four quarters and missed in one. However, the company has an average surprise of 2.88% over the trailing four quarters.

Our Recommendation

We are encouraged by Walgreen’s strategic decisions, including the sale of the PBM business and the acquisition of Moreover, the company has made satisfactory progress with respect to the CCR rollout and meeting the targeted savings under the rewiring initiative. The benefits from these initiatives will be experienced over a period of time.

In order to make the best use of available funds, Walgreen has scaled down its stores opening target. We believe this decision will benefit the company as the new stores take 2 to 3 years to break even. Leveraging on its strong cash balance, the company is well equipped to pursue suitable acquisitions in future.

However, Walgreen has been impacted by high unemployment levels and lower discretionary spending in the past few quarters.

How The Immune System Holds Off Against Anthrax

Scientists at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine and Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences have uncovered how the body”s immune system launches its survival response to the notorious and deadly bacterium anthrax. The findings, reported online today and published in the June 22 issue of the journal Immunity, describe key emergency signals the body sends out when challenged by a life-threatening Exposure to anthrax often proves deadly. The anthrax bacterium can invade immune cells called macrophages and release potent toxins that paralyze key biochemical pathways, causing rapid cell death. Unchecked, the process may completely collapse the body”s immune defenses, allowing the bacteria to proliferate, and ultimately lead to septic shock and high mortality.

The researchers discovered that the fight against invading anthrax bacteria begins with the first infected cell. They found that initially impacted macrophages immediately communicate with other immune cells to sound the alarm and develop a survival strategy. Remarkably, the key signaling molecule involved in the survival response is adenosine triphosphate or ATP, a basic currency of energy transfer used by all organisms.

“The warning alarm sounded during anthrax infection is elegant, complex and can be effective in slowing spread of the pathogen,” said Michael Karin, PhD, distinguished professor of pharmacology and senior author of the study.

Karin explained that ATP is released from macrophages infected and poisoned with anthrax toxins through a special channel in the cell membrane. This ATP is then sensed by a receptor on a second macrophage, which assembles and activates a complex of molecules known as the inflammasome. The inflammasome then releases into the bloodstream an immune-activating molecule known as interleukin-1beta (IL-1beta), which alerts macrophages throughout the body to mobilize and increase their resistance to anthrax-induced cell death.

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