Got (unwanted or expired) Drugs?

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and participating local law enforcement are coordinating a nationwide drug “take-back” day on Saturday, September 27th from 10 am to 2 pm.  This one-day event will provide residents with an opportunity to dispose of their unwanted and expired medicines via a no cost, anonymous collection.

Protect our kids, families, and environment by properly disposing of your unwanted and expired medicines. Medicines in the home are a leading cause of accidental poisoning, and flushed or trashed medicines can end up polluting our waters. Rates of prescription drug abuse are alarmingly high – over half of teens abusing medicines get them from a family member or friend, including the home medicine cabinet, often without their parent’s knowledge.

If you can’t make the event, here are some tips for how you can properly dispose of your medications at home.

Mix medicines (do not crush tablets or capsules) with an unpleasant substance such as kitty litter or used coffee grounds

  • Place the mixture in a container such as a sealed opaque plastic bag or a used butter/yogurt container
  • Throw the container in your household trash
  • Before throwing out your empty pill bottle or other empty medicine packaging, remember to scratch out all information on the prescription label to make it unreadable

There are a small number of medicines that may be especially harmful and, in some cases, fatal with just one dose if they are used by someone other than the person for whom the medicine was prescribed. These medicines have specific disposal instructions indicating they should be flushed down the sink or toilet as soon as they are no longer needed or when they cannot be disposed of through a medicine take-back program. Click here for a list of medicines recommended for disposal by flushing.

In October 2013, U.S. citizens turned in 324 tons of expired and unwanted medications for safe and proper disposal at the 5,683 drug take-back sites that were available in all 50 states.

This link will allow you to find the take-back location near you. The locations will run from 10:00am to 2:00pm on Saturday, September 27th.

Glucose Buddy App Review

The Glucose Buddy App is a data storage utility developed by Azumio Inc. for diabetic patients. This app is available for free on any iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch product with iOS 4.0 or later, as well as all Android devices. This mobile app easily keeps track of the blood glucose readings that are manually recorded from the user’s glucose monitor. It even allows users the option to enter productive notes such as “blood sugar elevated because of high carb lunch” so that their personal health record is more complete.

This diabetic app also gives users the option to record the name and dose of their medications, along with the corresponding time they were taken each day. Once a drug/dosage combination is entered, it is saved so that users must only select the medication from their list of previously entered products. Additional free features provided by this app include daily food, activity, and HbA1c logs, as well as charts that compare weekly and monthly log recordings. Another helpful feature is the ability of the app to send out push notifications in order to provide users with reminders and alarms when it is time for blood glucose testing and/or medication administration. A more advanced “Pro” version of this app is available for purchase at $6.99, which includes additional log options for blood pressure and weight and eliminates in-app advertisements.

Glucose Buddy is an easy-to-use journal app specially individualized with each patient’s diabetic history. Users have the ability to print out their log results to bring with them to their doctor’s office by syncing the logs to their account and then accessing them online. One drawback is that the app relies heavily on the patient to record this data accurately, so failure to do so will result in incomplete data sets. To get started, simply download the app and then go online to create your free account. For more information on this app, please visit


Vaccines on the Go App Review

The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia has released an app called “Vaccines on the Go: What You Should Know” to help parents have quick access to reliable information about vaccinations and the diseases they prevent. Not only does it go into detail about the vaccines, vaccine side effects, diseases, contagiousness of the disease, and timeline of the disease, but it contains a section dedicated to talking about vaccination safety. The vaccination safety section addresses concerns about vaccines such as risk of autism, vaccine components like thimerosal, and egg allergies. The app has videos that discuss the information found within the app, which may be helpful for those parents who have a low health literacy.

The app contains a vaccine schedule for children, teens and adults. For parents worried about the number of vaccines their child is receiving, there’s a section answering those questions. This app would be a great recommendation by the pharmacist or physician to parents who just had their first child, or had questions or concerns about vaccinations. If parents still had questions after using this app, there’s functionality to make a note to bring up to their doctor and the ability to email the Vaccine Education Center with questions.

Vaccines on the Go is full of valuable information, but there are a few limitations of the app. While the app provides a vaccine schedule, it does not provide a place for parents to record the administration date of a vaccine, which might be more useful to parents later on in their child’s life, as many parents lose immunization cards or fail to keep those records accessible.

This app is free for both Apple and Android devices. More information is available on the app’s website at


Brand Drug Patents and Exclusivity –Timed Locks on a Safe Analogy

Brand drugs in the U.S. have two main methods of protection from generic competition. 1) The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office protects innovation by awarding patents. 2) The U.S. Food and Drug Administration offers exclusivity protections.

The following analogy helps to illustrate the difficulty in predicting a generic launch date due to complex brand protections. Think of the brand drug as being protected by a safe. The door to the safe may Safehave one or more locks. Each lock has a timer that is counting down. Once the time runs out on the lock, it opens and remains open. Those locks represent the patents and exclusivities that protect the brand from generic competition.

There are two main scenarios for this analogy. First, without doing anything, all of the locks will open automatically at some point in the future. Generic drug manufacturers could wait for all patents and FDA exclusivity to expire. For the opportunists and/or impatient, actions can be taken to open the safe early instead of waiting.

To open the safe early, you must have certain capabilities in picking locks (proving invalidity or non-infringement in a Paragraph IV challenge). The type of lock (a patent protecting an indication vs. a patent protecting a dosage form) must be taken into consideration. Some locks (exclusivities and patents) are very advanced and essentially unable to be bypassed in the time remaining before it opens automatically (expires). Other locks are easily “picked” once you have the basic knowledge and capabilities.

Each brand drug will have a unique combination of patents and exclusivities that may have varying expiration dates (timed locks). Beating a patent (picking a lock) on one drug may or may not help you with future patent challenges. All of these factors demonstrate why it is so difficult to predict a generic launch date.

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GetMyRx App Review

GetMyRx is a prescription delivery service application that is available for mobile Apple devices. This new App allows retail pharmacy customers to scan and send a new prescription or refill into a local pharmacy and then get their prescription delivered within 4 hours. The App is easy to use, utilizing a step-wise approach for patients to enter necessary information. The App is able to scan the user’s insurance card and the new prescription or refill label using an in-app camera feature. The written prescription must be surrendered to the pharmacy upon delivery of the medication. Then, all the user has to do is enter their patient information, their doctor’s name, and a delivery address, and the pharmacy will do the rest. The delivering pharmacy takes care of transferring the prescription (if necessary) and calling the user to confirm the order and obtain the user’s credit card information. The App is free to download and the delivering pharmacy cannot charge a delivery fee, so the prescription will cost the exact amount it would cost in-store. GetMyRx charges pharmacies a software licensing fee for using its proprietary technology platform.

Currently, this service is only available in the Miami, Florida area, but developers are looking to expand to New York and San Francisco soon. Expansion of the availability of this App will largely depend on state law. In certain states, pharmacies cannot fill prescriptions unless they have the original prescription or the prescription was electronically sent by an authorized practitioner, so the prescription scan option would not be available in those states. Another drawback is that the user cannot choose which pharmacy to get the new prescription from, the App automatically matches the user to the nearest pharmacy using the service. Pharmacies interested in being a part of the GetMyRx network can email the company at More information about the GetMyRx App is available at

Johnson & Johnson 7 Minute Workout App Review

The Johnson & Johnson Official 7 Minute Workout is a free mobile App by Wellness & Prevention, Inc., a division of Johnson & Johnson. It is available for iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch and Android devices. This App is based on research by the American College of Sports Medicine that suggests a 7 minute, high intensity interval training (HIIT) session can be as effective as longer workouts to build muscle, lose weight and improve cardiovascular health.

The App includes the “7 minute workout”, a workout routine that only requires the user, a chair, and a wall. In the 7 minute workout, the user will perform 12 exercises for 30 seconds each with a 5-10 second break in between each exercise. Exercises include jumping jacks, abdominal crunches, pushups and many others that require minimal to no equipment. The App also includes two additional ways to work out: the “smart workout” is a customized workout based on age and other factors, and the “Workout library” which contains 36 exercises and 12 additional workouts that can be customized by the user. This customization of workouts allows for over 1,000 variations.

The user is able to customize and build their ultimate workout by liking or disliking exercises on the screen during a workout and the App will remember which exercises they do not like. The user is able to set reminders and share their results and accomplishments with friends on social media, to help keep motivated on their fitness goals.

The 7 minute workout is a visual app that can provide a variety of exercises for a quick workout for our time-starved population. This may be an ideal workout while on a business trip. The exercises are straightforward and easy to perform. If you are interested in the Johnson & Johnson Official 7 Minute Workout App, you can obtain more information and download it for free at


Prescription Drug Abuse – Educate Early

Cardinal Health Foundation has teamed up with Edheads, a non-profit organization that specializes in educational web development, to make an educational video game called “Trauma”. This game is designed to help educate and raise awareness of prescription drug abuse for students in middle school, high school, and college.

This free online game can be found at

The video game begins with the player being greeted by Dr. Ashner, an ED Physician, and Dr. Bennett, an ED Pharmacist. The player is a resident starting their emergency medicine rotation and will help to stabilize an automobile accident victim.

The video game takes the player through many activities and tests that would be conducted in stabilizing a patient in the emergency room. Throughout the game the player is educated on the dangers of prescription drug abuse, the effect it can have on parents, and the consequences that come from abusing prescription medicine.

Overall, this game is a useful tool in educating middle and high school students on the dangers of abusing and misusing prescription medication. Healthcare providers need to promote the safe and effective use of prescription medications everyday to patients. Pharmacists can advocate the use of the “Trauma” game to schools, community groups, and churches to spread awareness of prescription drug abuse not just to students or patients, but to the whole community.

Monitoring Price Changes

Price changes are a fact of life in pharmacy. PHSI monitors many prices that affect all stakeholders in pharmacy.

Pharmaceutical manufacturers monitor the price changes of products in therapeutic categories where they compete. Conclusive and up-to-date monitoring of a drug’s wholesale acquisition cost (WAC) and corresponding average wholesale price (AWP) provides insights into both the reimbursement of prescriptions at the pharmacy and manufacturer strategies. Pricing data can help you analyze and forecast prices for pharmaceutical products in the pipeline and factor into decisions concerning future target drugs.

Pharmacy Benefit Management companies (PBMs) closely monitor generic pricing to establish and maintain appropriate maximum allowable cost (MAC) prices. Published prices play a role in payer reimbursement to the pharmacy and rebates from manufacturers.

Retail pharmacies need current WAC and/or AWP prices to track expected reimbursement results. Plus, monitoring the fluctuating costs in the generic marketplace can ensure pharmacies establish their usual and customary cash price at a competitive and profitable level.

PHSI is an expert in monitoring price changes with valued partners in all 3 stakeholder segments and assists clients navigate the changing competitive landscape.

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CMS FUL Finalization Announced

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced on November 27, 2013 that the new Federal Upper Limit (FUL) for multi-source generic drugs will be finalized in July 2014.  The new FUL is at least 175% of weighted Average Manufacturer Price (AMP) for multi-source products with at least two A-rated generics available to retail pharmacies nationwide.  This is a significant change from the previous FUL calculation (150% of the lowest Wholesale Acquisition Cost [WAC]).  The new FUL is expected to decrease prices for most drugs while a select few drugs may see FUL increases.

Many states have implemented their own Maximum Allowable Cost (MAC) list (also known as SMAC) for Medicaid to achieve savings greater than the previous FUL.  If the state uses a SMAC list, a review and adjustment may be required to comply with the new FUL.  The SMAC list must deliver the same or more savings to the state when compared to the new FUL.

States may also use the National Average Drug Acquisition Cost (NADAC) similar to the AAC implementation in Alabama, Oregon, and other states.  If States decide to use NADAC pricing, they must submit state plan amendments (SPAs) to CMS to clarify and gain approval to update their pharmacy reimbursement methodology.

PHSI constantly works with payers, pharmacies, and pharmaceutical manufacturers to explain how FUL and NADAC impact each organization.  Do not delay in preparing for these changes.  It will be important to monitor your state(s) to determine if they will be adjusting the SMAC list or changing to NADAC as the basis for reimbursement.

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Pharmacy Chains to the Rescue

Over two million people have now enrolled to obtain insurance coverage via insurance exchanges, with the effective date of January 1, 2014. Due to the late enrollment surge in December, many people do not yet have an identification card or plan number.

The government considers people “enrolled” after they select a health plan. The first month’s premium for people that signed up in December is due no later than January 10, 2014, and identification cards and plan numbers will be issued only after the premium is paid.

Retail pharmacy is often where healthcare coverage is first experienced. Prescriptions needed in January before the new identification cards arrive create a conundrum for retail pharmacy. Walgreens, CVS, and Walmart have all announced that they will help patients verify coverage, answer questions, and provide up to a 30-day supply of medication during the month of January, at no upfront cost, to patients who demonstrate they have signed up for an exchange plan.

Putting a month’s supply of medication at risk to support a smooth transition and ensure that patients do not go without their medication is a strong demonstration by these retailers that they place great importance on patient care.

A concern exists about potential sticker shock when patients find out their medication is not covered, they have a 20% or 50% co-insurance for prescription medications, or that they have no reduction in costs until their deductible is met. Will these pharmacies have an uncollectable receivable for a medication that has already left the pharmacy and been consumed? Time will tell. Retailers may engage CMS in discussions on resolving these issues, if they have not done so already, in order to support the ACA rollout.