Publisher’s Window: March/April 2014

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That’s the number of years we have been publishing this buyers guide issue. And what changes have taken place over the years. The amount of functionality featured in the systems back then pales in comparison to what’s  offered today. Pharmacy has changed over the years, and so has the technology being offered.

Because pharmacy is a dynamic profession, and because our federal government continues to pass legislation that requires adaptation to new rules, the companies behind the technology are always busy keeping up. One  example is having their e-prescribing software audited for compliance with the DEA requirements for electronic prescribing of controlled substances. With front-store POS systems it is SIGIS, IIAS, and PCI compliance that comes into play.  Another example would be 340B programs and the special inventory management requirements. Next up is the conversion to ICD-10 from ICD-9 codes, come October of next year. And in addition to that will be the new track-and-trace requirements in order to keep the supply chain free of bogus drugs. 

Then there are the biotech drugs to contend with. The emergence of these drugs has spawned a new type of pharmacy called specialty pharmacy, where there’s particular emphasis on ensuring that the patients receiving these drugs are taking them as prescribed and getting the expected outcomes. Because of the expensive nature of biotech drugs, this places new demands on the inventory management of these drugs, and requires more rigorous documentation and reporting by the pharmacies managing the patients on these drugs. Biotech drugs will eventually eclipse the drug spend on traditional drugs by plan sponsors.

I see specialty pharmacy as providing more evidence of the importance of pharmacists as therapy management specialists. Slowly but surely pharmacy will be a recognized healthcare provider under Medicare. There has been a push for this recognition for a number of years now, but recent events are showing how pharmacists need to be recognized. To this point, there was an interesting article in the Sunday, Feb. 16, issue of The New York Times Magazine, where a woman was in and out the E.R. several times with acute diarrhea. The doctors were having a hard time pinpointing a diagnosis. Numerous tests were done, as well as a CT scan of her abdomen and pelvis. They thought she had celiac disease. It was a pharmacist, on the team making the rounds, who suggested that her condition might be tied to Benicar, the medication she was taking for her high blood pressure. In researching the drug the pharmacist found an F.D.A. warning that described patients who had the same symptom that looked like celiac disease. The patient was taken off the drug and her condition has since improved — end of story. CT

Bill Lockwood, chairman/publisher, can be reached at