Pharmacy News Online: Prescription Solutions Recognized for Online Pharmacy Safety and Quality
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Pharmacy News Online: Prescription Solutions Recognized for Online Pharmacy Safety and Quality

UNITEDHEALTH GRP : Prescription Solutions Recognized for Online Pharmacy Safety and Quality

Prescription Solutions, a leading pharmacy benefits management (PBM) organization and an Optum company, again has earned the prestigious Verified Internet Pharmacy Practice Sites? (VIPPS®) reaccreditation for its pharmacies in Carlsbad, California, and Overland Park, Kansas, from the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP).

The VIPPS accreditation program is a strong indicator of an Internet pharmacy’s compliance with state and federal laws and regulations and NABP’s criteria. The VIPPS Seal demonstrates that Prescription Solutions is properly licensed and has met a precise criteria review that considers medication safety, patient confidentiality, security of prescriptions, a quality assurance program and patient-pharmacist consultation.

“More and more of our members are enjoying the convenience, safety and cost savings of ordering their medications online as well as by mail and phone,” said Ed Feaver, president of Prescription Solutions and himself a licensed pharmacist. “When customers see the VIPPS® click-to-verify logo on our site, they know we are providing a high level of security and quality for their online purchases and are committed to their health and safety.”

VIPPS accreditation is a rigorous and thorough process. A pharmacy must first comply with the licensing and inspection requirements of its home state and in each state in which it dispenses medications. Then the pharmacy undergoes a comprehensive evaluation of its operations to ensure that it meets the VIPPS standards for quality, safety and confidentiality.

Prescription Solutions’ mail service pharmacies subject the drugs they dispense – whether ordered online or via mail or telephone – to a series of safety, accuracy, timely delivery and other quality control checks. Pharmacists are also available 24/7 for patient consultations. As an added safety precaution, these pharmacists can also review the patient’s medication history to look for potential adverse drug reactions and then counsel patients about how to avoid them.

The number of Americans ordering drugs online is growing rapidly. However, ordering drugs from online sites can be dangerous. There are thousands of sites pretending to be legitimate online pharmacies. To date, NABP has reviewed nearly 7,000 online sites – only four percent of those appear to be in compliance with pharmacy laws and practice standards.

Consumers seeking lower prices may fall victim to rogue sites where drugs may be counterfeit or of poor quality. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) advises consumers to use great care when purchasing prescription drugs online. The FDA also specifically cited the VIPPS role in certifying websites that meet industry standards so that consumers can minimize the risks of getting inferior quality drugs from disreputable sources. The FDA continues to support the VIPPS program as a vehicle for protecting public health.

“The convenience of online prescription ordering is an important component of Prescription Solutions total customer service experience,” said Feaver. For members who do not want to order prescriptions by mail or online, or who need medications quickly for treating illnesses that are episodic instead of chronic, Prescription Solutions also offers a network of more than 64,000 retail pharmacies throughout the United States.

Online vote will help Gateway win $100,000 for study

Online voting by the residents of Huron, Perth, Bruce and Grey Counties could help Gateway Rural Health Research Institute to qualify for $100,000 in funding for stroke prevention.

With the third largest seniors’ population in Canada, the four counties studied by Gateway is a perfect place to screen the aging population for atrial fibrillation, an irregular heartbeat that increases the risk of stroke by five times, says Feng Chang, chair of rural pharmacy with Gateway and assistant professor at the University of Waterloo School of Pharmacy.

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“Atrial fibrillation is a silent disease and you may not realize you have it since there might only be mild symptoms that you don’t associate with disease,” says Chang, adding that 25 per cent of people over 40 likely have it and that risk grows higher with age.

The Skip a Beat study proposed by Gateway would train three undergraduate pharmacy students to use a portable ECG (electrocardiogram) machine at local community pharmacies within the four counties to screen anyone for an irregular heartbeat. Anyone found to be at high risk of atrial fibrillation would be referred to their family doctors for assessment and diagnosis.

“We’re calling it ‘screening on the fly’ because we’ll be taking advantage of community pharmacies that patients are already regularly going to, where they already have a good relationship with the pharmacist,” says Chang.

She says the project is innovative because it pushes the boundaries of the scope of practice for pharmacists by offering a portable ECG at local pharmacies.

“It’s not something a pharmacist would typically do but we want to be able to relieve the burden on local doctors. Assessment has always been a part of our scope of practice but this is an innovative way to do it,” she says, adding that it fits well with coming healthcare reforms, aimed at expanding the practices of allied health professionals.

The second part of the project would create a training program and resource toolkit on atrial fibrillation symptoms, management, and stroke risk that would be offered to educate patients with atrial fibrillation, who would then become “atrial fibrillation stroke risk ambassadors” and offer at least one event in their own community, sharing their knowledge.

“It’s a train the trainer program to build our own resources within the region with the ultimate goal of preventing stroke, which is a very debilitating thing, in the area,” says Chang.

Citing the statistic that every 12 seconds someone somewhere in the world has a stroke, Chang says that number is expected to double in the next 20 years as the world’s population continues to age.

Gateway’s Skip a Beat program is one of 12 submitted from Canada to the One Mission, One Million – Getting to the Heart of Stroke campaign whose expert panel includes health experts from around the world and is sponsored by the pharmaceutical company Boehringer Ingelheim. Gateway’s proposal has already passed through a review by the expert panel, which looked at the scientific merit, the innovation and the practicality of the proposed study. But, it is competing against hundreds of projects from about 40 different countries for funding and a public vote will decide which projects get funded.

Votes can be cast once a day until June.

“We’re really excited that we got through to the final voting phase. We think we have a good chance to make it happen,” says Chang, adding that Gateway’s project is the only one submitted from Canada with a focus on rural communities.

Elevating practice across the Federal Pharmacy System through accredited training and certification

Federal pharmacy technicians certified through the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB) continue to serve their country and maximize training experiences at the Department of Defense (DoD) Military Education and Training Campus (METC) at Fort Sam Houston, Tex.

Since September, 2010, the METC has operated as the largest consolidated training program in DoD history, training enlisted medical personnel in over 30 medical programs including pharmacy technician training. The METC Pharmacy Technician Training Program is designed to standardize training for pharmacy technicians across federal agencies, including the Air Force, Army, Coast Guard and Navy.

The METC Pharmacy Technician Training Program, accredited by the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists, incorporates best practices from multiple agencies to create consistency in skills and knowledge, and promote innovative roles for federal pharmacy technicians. These roles include counseling patients, tech-check-tech, and pharmacist-independent practice in deployed settings. The curriculum is a blend of web-based, classroom, laboratory, clinical and experiential learning in the areas of calculations, pharmacotherapeutics, dispensing, sterile and non-sterile compounding, and pharmacy administration.

Prior to graduation, students are highly encouraged to take PTCB’s Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam (PTCE) to gain national recognition as a Certified Pharmacy Technician. This aligns with the METC’s objective to improve the quality of pharmacy technicians as measured by a national standard and enable pharmacy technicians to perform to their highest level of education and training.

“At the METC, our primary goal is preparing our students to serve in the multitude of military practice settings available to pharmacy technicians, including the unique challenge of assignments independent of a pharmacist. To meet this goal, our curriculum is both fast paced and more in depth than most other pharmacy technician programs. The intensity of the program does not afford students instructional time to prepare for the PTCE,” said Navy Lt. Cmdr. Christopher Lynch, program director for Pharmacy Training at the METC. “However, most students go above and beyond by studying for certification on their off-duty time to validate the knowledge they have attained, as well as make a positive impact at their permanent duty station.”

The METC is on its way to becoming a national strategic resource by fostering enhanced international partnerships and contributing to educational research and innovation.

“Certification and the expansion of responsibilities and skill sets have empowered pharmacy technicians to practice in ground-breaking areas within the Federal Pharmacy System,” said Melissa Murer Corrigan, RPh, executive director and CEO of PTCB. “Of the 400,000 pharmacy technicians PTCB has certified since 1995, we are honored that many of these pharmacy technicians are part of the world’s best military healthcare personnel supporting the nation.”

Bob Shallit: Roseville pharmacy intern’s idea could save billions

An intern’s observations have led to the launch of a new business aimed at eliminating waste – and saving billions of dollars – in the pharmacy industry.

Daryle Smith, a former tech engineer moving into a new career, was interning at a Safeway pharmacy in Roseville when he noticed a pile of prescription drugs about to expire and be sent back to manufacturers.

Smith discussed the situation with his boss, pharmacist Aeneas Chance, and learned the company would recoup only about 50 percent of its costs on the expiring drugs.

That led to a potential solution: Why not create an eBay-like business where pharmacists can buy and sell odd lots of drugs?

The result is RX Drug Exchange, a Lincoln-based firm founded by Smith and Chance that so far has signed up a dozen pharmacies and expects this fall to launch its site (

The idea is simple: Participants post their excess or expiring inventories online. Pharmacists with orders for those drugs can then buy them online – at a discount.

The exchange collects a 6 percent fee on each order.

It’s a boon to pharmacists “held captive by their inventories,” says Smith, who is 45 and serves as CEO of the new venture.

He estimates that California pharmacies lose about $2 billion annually due to returned drugs.

“That’s just California,” he says. “Spread it across the country and it’s ridiculous.”

Short move

In the works: a deal that would have the California Travel and Tourism Commission moving to new digs across town next year.

Principals aren’t talking yet because no lease has been signed. But we hear the commission – which works with private industry to promote the state’s tourist destinations – will likely be leaving its fourth floor space at 980 Ninth St. and take about 14,000 square feet at 555 Capitol Mall.

It’s a big deal for the Capitol Mall building, which took a hit two years ago when the McDonough Holland & Allen law firm departed for nearby digs (only to implode a year later).

Shorter move

Here’s more leasing news from Capitol Mall.

The local office of the Locke Lord law firm has inked a deal to move down the block – to 500 Capitol Mall.

The deal, signed Wednesday, provides space to accommodate 12 new attorneys Locke Lord picked up last month when Bullivant Houser Bailey closed its Sacramento offices.

The firm, now at 400 Capitol Mall, will move this weekend into the Bank of the West Tower, taking temporary space until improvements are finished in the 14,000 square feet it’s occupying on the building’s 18th floor, says Russel Gallaway, who brokered the deal for the firm.

Locke Lord, in Sacramento since 2006, focused mostly on health care issues with just two attorneys before adding the new staffers. Now, a spokeswoman says, it will also be handling corporate law, litigation and antitrust issues.

Plane logic

Roseville PR guy John Segale figures Sacramento may be playing a support role for the San Jose Sharks hockey team, now involved in the playoffs.

Specifically, by providing hangar space for the team’s jet.

He came to that conclusion after seeing a 757, with the Sharks logo on its tail, landing Tuesday morning at McClellan Airport.

Is he right?

McClellan exec Larry Kelley acknowledges that the plane is “in and out of here pretty frequently.”

But, for security reasons, he won’t identify any of the corporate planes that are housed at the former Air Force base.

Kelley does tell us McClellan has more than 600,000 square feet of hangar space. And, he says, better than 65 percent of it is in use.

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