Walgreens Becomes 1st Retail Chain To Diagnose, Treat Chronic Conditions

Published May 11th, 2015 by Devteam

It’s not just sore throats and flu shots anymore. Walgreens today became the first retail store chain to expand its health care services to include diagnosing and treating patients for chronic conditions such as asthma, diabetes and high cholesterol.

The move is the retail industry’s boldest push yet into an area long controlled by physicians, and comes amid continuing concerns about health care costs and a potential shortage of primary care doctors.

“Those two words, diagnosis and treatment, are big words. They show [Walgreens] is coming out of the closet and saying we really are going to do primary care now,” said Tom Charland, chief executive officer of Merchant Medicine, a health care consulting firm.

Walgreens Becomes 1st Retail Chain To Diagnose, Treat Chronic Conditions

Nurse Practitioner Vashtina Ellison-Ruddock examines clinic patient Miguel Morales a Walgreens Take Care Clinic in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Jack Gruber/USA TODAY).

Other retail store clinics, such as those at Walmart, CVS and Target stores, help customers manage chronic illnesses but generally do so only after they have been diagnosed elsewhere. More than a year ago, Walmart outlined plans to provide primary care in a leaked confidential document – but then appeared to back away from the idea.

Walgreens officials say they will have nurse practitioners and physician assistants at more than 300 Take Care Clinics in 18 states and the District of Columbia to do tests and make diagnoses – and also write prescriptions, refer patients for additional tests and help them manage their conditions.

“We’re not trying to take over primary care, but we think we can help support physicians and transform the way care is delivered to provide more access points at a time when people need it the most,” said Heather Helle, a division vice president at Walgreens.

But that offer was not welcomed by the president of the American Academy of Family Physicians, who said it is more difficult to manage patients’ care if they are treated in various settings — and that the clinics may not have some specialty services needed to treat those with complex diseases.

“It ends up being riskier for patients and costlier for the country,” said AAFP President Jeffrey Cain, a family doctor in Denver.

Helle said that in a perfect world all patients would have their own primary care doctors, “but, in reality, they simply do not.”

She said physicians will help oversee Walgreens’ clinics – and the clinics can transmit test results and other information electronically to doctors’ offices. She noted that clinics could help people find doctors too.  Many would have an affiliation or other link with the stores’ clinics.

Retail clinics generally appeal to consumers looking for convenience and cost savings.  Costs are roughly 30 percent to 40 percent less than similar care at doctor’s offices and 80 percent cheaper than at an emergency room, according to a 2011 study published in the American Journal of Managed Care.

At Walgreens, services will range from about $65 to $122 and will be offered in all Take Care Clinics except in Missouri, where state laws restrict services provided by non-physicians, the company said.

Walgreens Becomes 1st Retail Chain To Diagnose, Treat Chronic Conditions

Walgreens plans to expand medical services at more than 300 Take Care Clinics across the country (Photo by Jack Gruber/USA TODAY).

Walgreens’ move puts it in the potentially lucrative business of treating customers with long-term medical problems, which often require prescription drugs or other supplies that could be purchased at its stores.

Expanding services to diagnosis and treatment of chronic conditions that affect millions of Americans is a logical step, because the clinics can not only grow their own business, but also partner with hospitals and doctors’ groups to gain new customers, said Ronald L. Hammerle, president of Health Resources, a Florida consulting firm.

 “Everyone is trying to figure out how to get into that space,” he said. “The sophisticated player recognizes that whoever controls point of entry [to health services] manages the downstream referral business.”

In addition to its in-store clinics, Walgreens runs about 350 health clinics at worksites, which are paid for by employers. The retailer also has a program to link patients leaving hospitals with Take Care Clinics and Walgreens pharmacies.

At least one physicians’ group that had been briefed on the expanded clinics took a more conciliatory stance to the retailer’s announcement.

“We understand retail clinics are here to stay and likely to be expanding,” said Steven Weinberger, executive vice president of the American College of Physicians. “We need to figure out how the patient can be best served … in terms of safety, access and communication with the primary care physicians.”

Consumer Reports: Save on prescription drugs

Published May 11th, 2015 by Devteam

CONSUMER REPORTS - People who regularly take prescription medication spend on average more than $700 per year for drugs. To help you keep more of that money in your pocket, Consumer Reports had its shoppers check out prices at nearly 200 pharmacies.

One simple way to save is just to ask for a lower price. It worked for Consumer Reports' shoppers. In one case they saved $31.

Costco's pharmacy is another good way to save. Consumer Reports priced the cost of five common generic prescription drugs at pharmacies across the country. Costco was substantially less expensive than any other chain store. And you don't have to be a Costco member to fill your prescriptions there.

But don't rule out local independent pharmacies. Sometimes they offer bargain prices as low as Costco's or offer to meet a competitor's price. But you do have to ask.

Wherever you shop, if you have insurance, don't automatically use it. For some medications, if your drug insurance co-pay is more than $10, you might be better off not using your insurance and just paying the retail price.

Walmart, Sam's Club, Walgreens CVS, Kmart, Target and other pharmacies offer hundreds of generic prescription drugs at deep discounts. Prices are as little as $4 per month and $10 for a three-month supply.

If you take medications over the long term, Consumer Reports says you should ask your doctor for a 90-day prescription rather than a 30-day one. If your insurance company allows it, you'll be able to save on multiple co-pays.

Also look into the loyalty programs at many drugstore chains. They will also help you save.

Complete Ratings and recommendations on all kinds of products, including appliances, cars and trucks, and electronic gear, are available on Consumer Reports' website.Subscribe to

(Copyright © 2015 Consumers Union of U.S., Inc. All Rights Reserved.)

10 Ways to Get Your Medications for Up to 50% Off

Published May 11th, 2015 by Devteam

10 Ways to Get Your Medications for Up to

50% Off

I was raised by a doctor -- who is also board-certified in pharmacology -- and by a medical office manager. I also worked in a doctor's office for about a decade before going into journalism. What I learned from those experiences shapes my life, from what I eat to how I purchase medications. Below are prescription purchasing tips many people overlook, even though they can cut costs by much more than 50 percent.

1. Consider Over-the-Counter Options

Few types of prescription medications have over-the-counter competitors. Still, it doesn't hurt to ask your doctor or pharmacist if your prescriptions have such alternatives. These drugs are often cheaper, and they might save you a doctor's appointment. For example, Consumer Reports recently reported that certain over-the-counter antihistamines are generally "equally effective at relieving symptoms" as prescription antihistamines.

2. Try Generics

Generics are one of the best ways to save money on medications. Plus, there's virtually no reason not to at least try a generic drug these days. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration's Drugs@FDA database makes it easy to determine whether a generic is therapeutically equivalent to its brand-name version.

"Drug products classified as therapeutically equivalent can be substituted with the full expectation that the substituted product will produce the same clinical effect and safety profile as the prescribed product," the FDA explains. "Drug products are considered to be therapeutically equivalent only if they ... are pharmaceutical equivalents (contain the same active ingredient(s); dosage form and route of administration; and strength."

Medications in the database have received a therapeutic equivalence code from the FDA and are divided into two main categories based on that code. Drugs that have a code starting with an "A" are considered "therapeutically equivalent to other pharmaceutically equivalent products," according to the FDA's website. Drugs with a code that starts with a "B" are considered "NOT to be therapeutically equivalent."

3. Consider Paying Out of Pocket

If your copay is more than $4, you might be overpaying. For example, big-box stores like Target and Walmart and grocers like Kroger and Winn-Dixie offer a 30-day supply of hundreds of generic medications for as little as $4, and a 90-day supply for $10.

4. Check Online Prices

Prices on the Internet are often lower than those of brick-and-mortar pharmacies. Reputable online pharmacies like also offer free shipping. Some stores with brick-and-mortar pharmacies have mail-order programs with free shipping. Costco is one example - and you don't have to be a Costco member to use mail-order online.

5. Use Reputable Online Pharmacies

In the U.S., the Verified Internet Pharmacy Practice Sites program offers online pharmacies a chance to establish their legitimacy. To tell these pharmacies apart from others, look for the VIPPS symbol on pharmacy websites. Also, use the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy's verification website to look up an online pharmacy's certification by entering its website address. Prescriptions from outside the U.S. are illegal.

6. Check Strength Prices 

Sometimes the per-milligram cost of a medicine varies depending on the strength. For example, currently sells a 30-day supply of all strengths of the common cholesterol drug Crestor for $243.90. So, the per-milligram cost is as follows:
  • 5 milligram strength: About $1.63 a milligram
  • 10 milligram strength: About 81 cents a milligram
  • 20 milligram strength: About 41 cents a milligram
  • 40 milligram strength: About 20 cents a milligram

If you take a 20-milligram dose, for example, you would save around 50 percent -- about $126 a month -- by getting 40-milligram pills and splitting them. The same percentage of savings is true of 5- and 10-milligram sizes, respectively, and 10- and 20-milligram sizes, respectively. If you would save significantly by splitting pills, ask your doctor whether your prescriptions can be split safely.

7. Ask for a Larger Quantity

At many pharmacies, purchasing a 90-day supply will get you a discount. If this is true of your medications, nicely ask your doctor to write your prescriptions for larger quantities. Explain how it would save you money.

8. Don't Wait Until the Last Minute

If you wait till you're down to the last pill to ask your pharmacy to refill the prescription, you're limited to brick-and-mortar pharmacies unless you pay extra for expedited shipping. The free shipping option offered by online pharmacies generally takes at least a couple of days.

9. Check Prices Again

When you're down to your last refill or the last month's worth of a prescription, it means your doctor will have to write a new prescription soon. This is a good time to compare prices on that medication because they fluctuate from time to time, especially at online pharmacies. If you decide to use a different pharmacy this time, inform the doctor's office before your physician writes the new script. To facilitate the pharmacy change, provide the new pharmacy's phone and fax numbers to the doctor's office.

10. Save your Receipts

Prescription drugs that you purchase for yourself, spouse or dependents are considered federal income tax deductions in certain cases, according to theInternal Revenue Service. Your total deductible medical expenses must exceed 10 percent of your adjusted gross income, or 7.5 percent of your AGI if you or your spouse is 65 or older. The latter percentage is only available through December 2016.

What's your favorite way to save money on prescriptions? Let us know onFacebook. And share this story with family and friends who are looking for ways to cut medication costs. Like this article? Sign up for our newsletter and we'll send you a regular digest of our newest stories, full of money saving tips and advice, free! We'll also email you a PDF of Stacy Johnson's "205 Ways to Save Money" as soon as you've subscribed. It's full of great tips that'll help you save a ton of extra cash.



Whooping Cough Vaccine Readily Available in 139 Washington State Rite Aid Pharmacies

Published May 11th, 2015 by Devteam

Washington State Department of Health Reports Spike in Whooping Cough Cases for 2015

CAMP HILL, Pa.--()--As the number of pertussis (also known as whooping cough) cases increases, Rite Aid is encouraging Washington residents to get vaccinated against the disease if they haven’t already done so. Rite Aid pharmacists are readily available to administer the whooping cough vaccine, Tdap, at all 139 Washington locations. Last week, the Washington State Department of Health reported an increase in the number of pertussis (whooping cough) cases this year1. There have been 319 cases of whooping cough so far in 2015 – a 551 percent increase in number of cases from 2014.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends adolescents 11 and above receive the Tdap vaccine. Cost varies based on the patient's insurance coverage and the Tdap vaccines are covered by many insurance plans. Tdap vaccinations are available during pharmacy hours and no appointment is necessary. To locate the nearest Rite Aid pharmacy, or call 1-800-RITE-AID.

Although young children typically receive the DTaP vaccine, a series of five shots which prevents diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis, from their primary health care providers as part of a regular vaccine schedule, the CDC recommends a Tdap dose between ages 11 and 12; individuals who did not receive a Tdap dose at those ages should receive one as soon as possible. Children between the ages of 7 and 10 who did not receive their full childhood schedule of DTaP may also receive their Tdap vaccine from a Rite Aid certified immunizing pharmacist.

Additionally, the Tdap vaccine is recommended for healthcare professionals and anyone having close contact with a baby younger than 12 months, including grandparents, family members and childcare providers. Women who are pregnant should get a Tdap immunization during every pregnancy to protect their newborn from whooping cough.

Named for the high-pitched “whooping” sound typically accompanying severe coughing fits, whooping cough is a highly contagious respiratory disease that is particularly dangerous for infants. The CDC says about half of whooping cough patients under a year of age require hospitalization and that getting vaccinated is the best way to prevent the bacterial infection.

In addition to the Tdap vaccine, Rite Aid certified immunizing pharmacists are able to vaccinate patients against more than a dozen diseases based on the CDC’s vaccine guidelines and state regulations.

Rite Aid Corporation (NYSE:RAD) is one of the nation's leading drugstore chains with nearly 4,600 stores in 31 states and the District of Columbia and fiscal 2015 annual revenues of $26.5 billion. Information about Rite Aid, including corporate background and press releases, is available through the company's website at



Rite Aid Corporation
Kristin Kellum, 717-975-5713

The Medicine Shoppe and Medicap Pharmacy Franchisees Go Tobacco-Free

Published May 11th, 2015 by Devteam


DUBLIN, OhioMay 11, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- Smoking is the leading cause of preventable death worldwide, killing more than 480,000 Americans and causing illnesses that cost more than $300 billion to treat each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In an effort to combat these trends, nearly all Medicine Shoppe and Medicap Pharmacy franchises have committed to not sell tobacco or tobacco-related products.

"Each of our Medicine Shoppe and Medicap Pharmacy franchisees pride themselves on being a community healthcare destination," said John Fiacco, vice president of Medicine Shoppe International, Inc.  "As retailers, we believe our franchisees can play a significant role in limiting access to tobacco and tobacco-related products – and in preventing the diseases and health problems those products can cause."

Fiacco says that the majority of Medicine Shoppe and Medicap Pharmacy locations have been tobacco-free for quite some time, because selling tobacco products simply does not align with the franchise system's goal of promoting healthy communities. However, when managed care organizations began penalizing patients who utilize pharmacies that sell tobacco products with increased co-pays, the franchise system and its franchisees implemented a formal policy prohibiting sales of tobacco and tobacco-related products.

Fiacco also said that many Medicine Shoppe and Medicap Pharmacy locations sell cessation aids such as nicotine replacement gum and nicotine patches, and many offer comprehensive smoking-cessation education programs. Others partner with local smoking-cessation programs to fill prescriptions for medications that help patients successfully quit smoking.   

"At my first pharmacy job, I was at the front register selling cigarettes," said Roger Peltola, pharmacist and owner of the Medicine Shoppe in Hillsboro, Oregon. "It just didn't make sense to me that pharmacists were treating the diseases caused by the tobacco products they sold. I've never sold tobacco products in my store, and am proud of my fellow retail independent pharmacies for finding healthy ways to drive revenue in their stores and promote wellness in their communities."

Fiacco said that removing products that contribute to disease and addiction was a natural transition for Medicine Shoppe and Medicap Pharmacy franchisees.

"This nationwide initiative marks a continuation of our commitment to improving the health and wellness of the local communities we serve, and our dedication to providing a higher level of patient care," said Fiacco.

About Medicine Shoppe International
Medicine Shoppe International, Inc. (MSI), a Cardinal Health company, is distinguished for its commitment to providing expert, personalized health care. MSI is one of the largest franchisors of independent community pharmacies in the United States, with more than 500 Medicine Shoppe and Medicap Pharmacy locations across the United States, and more than 200 international pharmacies. Learn more at

About Cardinal Health  
Headquartered in Dublin, Ohio, Cardinal Health, Inc. (NYSE: CAH) is a $91 billion health care services company that improves the cost-effectiveness of health care. As the business behind health care, Cardinal Health helps pharmacieshospitalsambulatory surgery centers, clinical laboratories and physician offices focus on patient care while reducing costs, enhancing efficiency and improving quality. Cardinal Health is an essential link in the health care supply chain, providing pharmaceuticals and medical productsand services to more than 100,000 locations each day and is also the industry-leading direct-to-home medical supplies distributor. The company is a leading manufacturer of medical and surgical products, including glovessurgical apparel and fluid managementproducts. In addition, the company operates the nation's largest network of radiopharmacies that dispense products to aid in the early diagnosis and treatment of disease. Ranked #22 on the Fortune 500, Cardinal Health employs 34,000 people worldwide. More information about the company may be found at and @CardinalHealth on Twitter.

SOURCE Cardinal Health

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