JD Power Identifies Decline in Pharmacy Customer Satisfaction Driven by Escalating Prescription Drug Costs

by Michael Johnsen

 

The U.S. pharmacy industry, perennially one of the highest-scoring industries measured by J.D. Power, experienced notable declines in overall customer satisfaction this year, the research firm reported Tuesday.

According to the J.D. Power 2017 U.S. Pharmacy Study, decreases in satisfaction with both brick-and-mortar and mail order pharmacies were driven primarily by declines in satisfaction with cost.

“Pharmacies have historically earned very high marks for customer satisfaction, so any significant year-over-year decline is cause for closer investigation,” stated Rick Johnson, director of the Healthcare Practice at J.D. Power. “Consumer concerns about rising drug prices have likely affected perceptions of the cost for their retail prescriptions. The decrease in satisfaction with cost is the primary drag on overall customer satisfaction, creating a serious challenge for retailers.”

“Pharmacies have historically earned very high marks for customer satisfaction, so any significant year-over-year decline is cause for closer investigation.”

Decreases in satisfaction with brick-and-mortar pharmacies were driven by year-over-year declines in satisfaction with cost, which fell 27 index points to 789 (on a 1,000-point scale), and the in-store experience, a 14-point drop to 851.  Decreases in satisfaction with mail order pharmacies were driven by declines in satisfaction with cost (minus 49 to 787) and the prescription ordering process (minus 15 to 877).

This year’s study measured drug adherence levels across the different pharmacy channels for the first time, and found that 79% of customers who filled prescriptions through a brick-and-mortar pharmacy reported they always were adherent to their medications. This compares with 84% among mail order customers and 74% among specialty pharmacy customers. Customers who discussed a prescription with a pharmacist in a brick-and-mortar pharmacy at the time of pick-up had the highest overall levels of adherence.

Among all channels studied, supermarkets had the highest levels of overall customer satisfaction (859), followed by mail order (853); hospital or clinic (851); chain drug stores (849); specialty pharmacy (842); and mass merchandisers (839).

AmerisourceBergen’s Good Neighbor Pharmacy ranked highest overall among brick-and-mortar chain drug stores with a score of 889.  McKesson’s Health Mart (886) ranked second and Cardinal Health’s The Medicine Shoppe Pharmacy ranked third (879).

Sam’s Club ranked highestoverall among brick-and-mortar mass merchandisers with a score of 874. Fred’s (873) ranked second and Costco (875) ranked third. While CVS Pharmacy at Target placed fifth this year, it had the largest increase in satisfaction of any pharmacy from 2016 (+20).

Brookshire Grocery ranked highest overall among brick-and-mortar supermarkets with a score of 894. H-E-B (893) ranked second and BI-LO (891) ranked third.

Walgreens Specialty Pharmacy ranked highest among specialty pharmacies with a score of 853. BriovaRx (851) ranked second and CVS Specialty/CVS Caremark (840) ranked third.

 

Link to original article posted in Drug Store News

Enzyme could help fight against mid-life obesity and fitness loss

National Institutes of Health discovery of enzyme in mice could lead to new class of medications to fight mid-life obesity

A team of scientists led by researchers from the National Institutes of Health has identified an enzyme that could help in the continuous battle against mid-life obesity and fitness loss. The discovery in mice could upend current notions about why people gain weight as they age, and could one day lead to more effective weight-loss medications.

“Our society attributes the weight gain and lack of exercise at mid-life (approximately 30-60 years) primarily to poor lifestyle choices and lack of will power, but this study shows that there is a genetic program driven by an overactive enzyme that promotes weight gain and loss of exercise capacity at mid-life,” said lead study author Jay H. Chung, Ph.D., M.D., head of the Laboratory of Obesity and Aging Research at the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), part of NIH.

Chung and his team used mice to test the potentially key role this enzyme plays in obesity and exercise capacity. They administered an inhibitor that blocked the enzyme in one group being fed high-fat foods, but withheld it in another. The result was a 40 percent decrease in weight gain in the group that received the inhibitor.

The study, the first to link the increased activity of this enzyme to aging and obesity, appears in the current issue of Cell Metabolism. Its findings could have ramifications for several chronic illnesses. With lower rates of obesity, the researchers say, rates of heart disease, diabetes, and other diseases that tend to increase with age, including cancer and Alzheimer’s disease, could fall as well.

Researchers have known for years that losing weight and maintaining the capacity to exercise tend to get harder beginning between ages 30 to 40 — the start of midlife. Scientists have developed new therapies for obesity, including fat-fighting pills. However, many of those therapies have failed because of a lack of understanding about the biological changes that cause middle-aged people to gain weight, particularly around their abdomen.

Click here to read the rest of this article originally published by National Institutes of Health

The joy is being sucked out of the practice of medicine. Here’s why.

Many providers — primary care physicians, physician assistants, and even many beleaguered specialists — are increasingly dissatisfied with their jobs.

What is happening to medical practice and what can we do to bring the joy back to being a health care provider?

She came to the urgent care center with a sprained ankle. The primary care provider gave her excellent care, expertly applying evidence-based evaluation guidelines to her situation, and, thereby, avoiding unnecessary x-rays. By all measures, the provider’s care was excellent, but the interaction still ended up reducing his salary. You see, that patient’s only medical interaction that year was for this ankle sprain, and the provider was therefore held accountable for all of her primary care needs. Since she had not received a mammogram that year, or received a diabetes screening, he incurred an end-of-the-year penalty for failing to meet these quality standards.

I am early into a one-year quest to connect with leading thinkers from inside and outside medical care, so I can better understand why many clinicians are miserable in their careers, and much more importantly, what can be done to help them thrive at work even though an increasing number of outside parties are looking over their shoulder, assessing the quality of the care they provide.

These increasingly burdensome rules and regulations are making it hard to enjoy medical practice these days. Several decades ago, physicians largely practiced as autonomous professionals, governed by standards developed by their professional peers. Physicians underwent intense and prolonged training to develop the knowledge and skills to know how best to help patients with their problems. And the world generally stood back and accepted, on faith, that most physicians would provide excellent care to most of their patients.

In recent years, however, outsiders have increasingly tried to assess just how well physicians are performing their jobs. Insurance companies and Medicare administrators are measuring the quality of care physicians provide, and even holding them financially accountable when that care is not up to standards. In part, these external accountability measures have been put into place because people paying for medical care — insurance companies, Medicare administrators, and even patients — realized that the quality of medical care wasn’t always as high as it ought to be. And since the profession wasn’t doing everything it could to promote high quality, they recognized that somebody from the outside needed to hold physicians accountable for their practice. As a result, medical practice has shifted from being autonomous to supervised; physicians have gone from being independent decision-makers to being bureaucrats forced to check boxes.

Click here to read all of this article originally posted on KevinMD.com

Dosage Forms: Introduction to Pharmaceuticals

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This article is a sufficient beginning to know everything about pharmaceuticals. If you are just starting to know about this amazing field, this is a good guide for you.

Drug is the substance used to cure, treat, restore the health state, or optimize a malfunction. Fundamentally, this substance is brought from plants or animals. Rarely, the drug is administered in its primary or crude form. In other words, the drug can be natural, synthetic, or semi-synthetic. The drug’s crude form passes by different processes to give rise to what is called dosage forms.

During manufacturing, the crude drug is called a pharmaceutical preparation. Dosage form is the crude drug in its final form after adding particular characteristics to it. The drug manufacture includes addition of additives; pharmaceutical ingredients.

The additives are mainly non-medicinal substances used for many purposes. They are added to enhance the drug form, quality, and efficacy.

They are used:

As solubilizing agents

For dissolving the drug in a solvent as in the formation of solutions

For dilution

To decrease or optimize concentration

As suspending agents

To suspend solid particles in a solution and form a suspension

As emulsifying agents

To dissolve water in oil or oil in water and produce an emulsion

As thickeners

To harden/thicken creams and ointments

As stabilizers

To maintain the stability of a pharmaceutical preparation

As preservatives

To protect the pharmaceutical preparations from contamination by microorganisms such as bacteria and fungi

As coloring agents

To give the drug a perfect appearance and attractiveness.

As flavoring agents

To hide a bad taste like the bitter taste. Moreover, flavoring agents are used to add a reasonably good taste to the drug and increase its palatability.

Click here to download a PDF with more information

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Worried about those pills you found in your teenager’s room? What are they?

What kind of pills are these?

Worried about those capsules you found in your teenager’s room? Not sure about some of those leftover pills still in the bathroom cabinet? There’s a good chance that our Pill Identification Wizard (Pill Finder) can help you match size, shape, colour… then lead you to find the detailed description in our drugs database.

NOTE: As a general rule, we should all periodically check our medicine cabinets for any expired, re-bottled, or unidentified pills. The safest bet is to keep all medications in their original bottles or packets, with pertinent labeling and instructions attached, to avoid confusion and mistakes.

Most pills can usually be identified by color, size, shape and a combination of letters and numbers.

Click here for a Pill Identification Wizard