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National Conference for Retail Pharmacy Professionals Kicks Off in San Diego

Representatives from more than 130 companies gathered in San Diego on August 30 for the start of the National Association of Chain Drug Stores (NACDS) Pharmacy and Technology Conference 2010—one of the country’s leading annual gatherings for retail pharmacy professionals.

The annual event, which runs until August 31, is a chance for high-profile members of the retail pharmacy industry to share their insights and market forecasts with associates, political leaders and members of the media. According to the NACDS site, the lucrative industry generates more “$200 billion” in the annual sales of over the counter medication, prescription drugs and “home healthcare” products.

In addition to providing a platform for retail pharmacy leadership, the NACDS Pharmacy and Technology conference offers mass merchants representing over 80,000 associated retail outlets a chance to showcase the latest in pharmacy store goods, services and technologies. Many of products previewed at the NACDS show will benefit industry professionals nationwide, including San Francisco pharmacy technicians.

The Pharmacy & Technology Conference Chairman and Vice President of Hy-Vee Inc. gave the opening remarks in a special address to event attendees. Egeland, himself a registered pharmacist, stressed the importance of meeting customer “health and wellness needs” by collaborating across departments. He also encouraged attendees to appreciate the perspective of retail pharmacy customers.

“I challenge you to look at it from the view of patients and consumers. The fact is that patients and consumers are the same people. They need healthcare products and services, and many other things we carry in our stores. They lead lives – whole lives that can’t be understood in neat and tidy segments. I am better at what I do because I have the chance to engage on the bigger picture. We need to share that opportunity with others we work with back home,” Egeland said.

In San Diego as well other areas in southern and northern California numerous customers of NACDS-affiliated stores count on retail professionals, like Sacramento pharmacy technicians, to assist them with a variety of medication and healthcare needs.

If you’ve considered pursuing a career as a Bay Area pharmacy technician, Unitek College may offer the quality education you need to meet your professional goals. Learn more about the pharmacy technician training program at Unitek College, today!

To learn more about the National Association of Chain Drug Stores and the NACDS 2010 Pharmacy & Technology, please visit:

http://nacds.org/
http://meetings.nacds.org/rxconference/2010/about_RxConference.cfm

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Recent Mobile Applications Designed for Pharmacy Customers on the Go

If recent product launches are any indication, more pharmacy customers may soon be getting their prescription alerts in digital-based formats. In a press release issued August 4, Acclaim Telecom Services, a leading speech-recognition communications company, announced the upcoming release of their Smart Mobile RX application for smartphone and email users.

The Dallas-based company designed the application for use by pharmacies that are currently on their Enterprise Pharmacy System and PDX Pharmacy System brand prescription filling software. Participating pharmacies and related professionals, like San Francisco pharmacy technicians, can use the Smart Mobile RX app to notify customers, via email or rich-text format messages, of important services like medication refills.

Made for use with almost any kind of email client or smartphone, the soon-to-be released technology can also be applied to traditional phone messages. The versatile new product will be introduced at the National Association of Chain Drug Stores’ (NACDS) Pharmacy and Technology Conference, August 28-31 in San Diego, California.

James Davis, President of Acclaim Telecom Services, Inc., shared his enthusiasm for the product on the Aug. 4 announcement:

“Acclaim’s Smart Mobile RX allows any brand of Smart Phone, for the first time, to provide consumers with additional features through the use of a single interactive portal eliminating the need to develop separate applications for each unique mobile device. Smart Mobile RX’s feature rich message offerings save valuable time and money while enabling Pharmacy Retailers to increase store revenues,” Davis said.

Another example of mobile technology now available to Sacramento pharmacy technicians,  Bay Area pharmacy technicians  and other pharmacy professionals is the iPhone application and relaunched mobile site from Walgreens.

In an announcement this June, Walgreens confirmed the new and updated mobile features provide customers with text alerts regarding prescription refills and special offers. The text message technology is currently available to iPhone, Blackberry and Android smartphone users. Customers also have the option of receiving texts in English or Spanish.

In the June press release, Mark Wagner, Walgreens’ executive vice president of operations and community management, expressed his support of mobile technology.

“Text alerts are a valuable time-saving tool and the latest example of how our mobile applications are further connecting the Web to Walgreens stores and pharmacies, giving customers on-the-go convenience wherever they are,” he said.

Walgreens originally launched their mobile application in fall 2009. The revised version includes mobile prescription refill capabilities, a store locator, and the ability to browse product reviews.

For additional information on Acclaim Telecom, PDX Pharmacy Solutions or Walgreens please visit:

https://www.pdxinc.com/software/pdxpharmacy.asp

http://news.walgreens.com/article_display.cfm?article_id=5315

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Senate Approves Funding for Medicaid Extension

The U.S. Senate voted today to approve federal funding extensions for Medicaid programs throughout the country, reported the pharmacy-focused news sources Chain Drug Review and Drug Store News.

According to coverage by Drug Store News reporter Alaric DeArment, the 61-39 vote supporting the supplemental Medicaid funding was due, in large part, to a strong push by the U.S. retail pharmacy lobby and “an extension of the higher federal medical assistance percentage [FMAP] that was included in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.”

The report also states that the bill, which could impact industry professionals like Sacramento pharmacy technicians, is set for a vote next week in the U.S. House of Representatives. Identical forms of the proposed legislation must be passed by the Senate and House before President Obama can sign the bill into law.

One of the bill’s biggest supporters, the National Association of Chain Drug Stores (NACDS), says members of the House are expected to postpone their annual August trips to their home districts for next week’s vote.

The NACDS president and CEO Steve Anderson shared his support of the Senate vote in a press release issued today on the organization’s website:

“This enhanced federal funding of state Medicaid programs is important for the prevention of additional cuts to pharmacy services and pharmacy access at the state level. Pharmacy access is vital to helping patients take their medications correctly, which is essential for maintaining patient health and preventing dramatic increases in long-term healthcare costs, particularly in the treatment of chronic disease,” Anderson stated.

The extension of the FMAP, or Federal Medical Assistance Percentage, would allow state Medicaid programs will continue to receive matching funds from the government. For Medicaid recipients, including many low-income families and seniors on fixed-incomes, the FMAP continuation would help them obtain crucial prescription medications at reduced costs.

Many Americans receiving state Medicaid benefits, including those in Northern California, rely on the assistance of skilled and understanding professionals like pharmacy technicians to assist with their medication needs. If you’ve been looking for rewarding career in a growing field, then consider a job as a Bay Area Pharmacy Technician.

Unitek College has a skilled PT training program to get you started on an exciting profession as a PT in Santa Clara or as a San Francisco Pharmacy Technician. Learn more about Unitek College’s quality PT training program now!

For additional information on the Medicaid extension bill, please visit:

http://drugstorenews.com/story.aspx?id=148099&menuid=335
http://www.chaindrugreview.com/front-page/newsbreaks/senate-oks-extension-of-enhanced-medicaid-funding

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Ballot Measure May Allow Big Box Retailers to Compete with North Dakota’s Locally-Owned Pharmacies

A ballot measure backed by the retail giants Wal-Mart and Walgreen’s aims to change a nearly 50-year-old law that requires North Dakota pharmacies be majority-owned by independent pharmacists. Since 1963, the North Dakota Pharmacy Ownership Law has barred hospitals, chain drug stores and any retail businesses without majority-ownership by local pharmacists from operating pharmacies in the state.

North Dakota’s pharmacy ownership law is the only one of its kind in the United States. Its unique provisions have allowed independently-owned pharmacies to thrive throughout the state. According to figures published by the Institute for Local Self-Reliance (ILSR), nearly 90 percent of North Dakota’s pharmacies are independently-owned and operated. By comparison, only around 30 percent of the pharmacies throughout the rest of the country operate under independent ownership.

With financial backing from Walgreen’s and Wal-Mart, the group North Dakotans for Affordable Healthcare hopes to repeal the law through the passage of a ballot measure in the upcoming November election. After months of petitioning North Dakota voters, the group confirms it has exceeded the amount of signatures required to have their initiative placed on the state’s 2010 election ballot.

According to the group’s website, the pharmacy ownership law unfairly restricts the sale of generic prescription drugs in North Dakota by non-pharmacist-owned businesses. As a result, the group claims, North Dakota residents continue to pay more for medications than consumers in other states.

Despite claims that the pharmacy ownership law prevents North Dakota prescription drug users from saving money, a 2009 report issued by ISLR found that repealing the law may actually cost the state millions in lost tax revenue and related economic activity. The report also said passage of the repeal would jeopardize local pharmacies that serve the state’s many rural communities.

Recent efforts by the North Dakotans for Affordable Healthcare group aren’t the first attempt to overturn the pharmacy ownership law. The law was upheld by the United States Supreme Court in the 1970s and was the subject of an attempted repeal by members of the North Dakota State Legislature in 2009.

Although its pharmacy ownership laws are unique, North Dakota, like all other states, relies on the expertise of pharmacy professionals to provide valuable prescription-related services to its residents.

Throughout California, the demand for qualified professionals, like San Francisco pharmacy technicians, continues to grow. The state requires more Sacramento pharmacy technicians and PTs in other locations to assist consumers with their prescription medications. Now is a perfect time to pursue a career in this expanding field. Discover today how quality training from Unitek College can jumpstart your career as a Bay Area pharmacy technician.

For additional information on North Dakota’s Pharmacy Ownership Law and the opposing ballot initiative sponsored by North Dakotans for Affordable Healthcare, please visit:
http://www.newrules.org/retail/rules/pharmacy-ownership-laws/pharmacy-ownership-law-north-dakota
http://liveshots.blogs.foxnews.com/2010/07/21/nd-initiative-to-change-pharmacy-law/

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Major Organizations for Pharmacy Professionals Endorse Medication Therapy Management Expanded Benefits Act of 2010

This past June, two leading organizations for pharmacy professionals, the National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA) and the National Association of Chain Drug Stores (NACDS), announced their support of the Medication Therapy Management Expanded Benefits Act of 2010.

Introduced in the U.S. Senate on June 29, the bill seeks to increase patient access to the medication therapy management (MTM) services provided by pharmacists. Medication therapy management is used to describe a number of medication-related education and counseling services provided by pharmacists and pharmacy professionals, such as a Sacramento pharmacy technician.

Since being codified into in the Medicare Modernization Act of 2003, MTM has been recognized as an effective way for pharmacy professionals to monitor the medication regimens of Medicaid and Medicare beneficiaries, and to advise these patients on critical information like prescription side effects and drug interactions. In particular, MTM is seen as important for those with multiple prescriptions for chronic diseases like diabetes and asthma, and the chronic conditions associated with aging.

The Medication Therapy Management Expanded Benefits Act of 2010, authored by Senator Kay Hagan (D-NC) and cosponsored by Senator Al Franken (D-MN), would increase the number of people eligible to receive potentially money and life-saving MTM services.

NACDS President and CEO Steven C. Anderson, IOM, CAE, expressed the organization’s support of the proposed legislation in June 29 statement:

“By encouraging MTM services in neighborhood pharmacies, the bill would improve public health and reduce healthcare costs by helping patients to take their medications in the right ways and avoid complications with their drug therapies. Patients suffering from chronic disease, be it diabetes, hypertension, asthma or other conditions, will benefit from these pharmacy services, which also strengthen the pharmacist-patient relationship.”

Recent evidence points to the growing need for more medication management therapy services provided by pharmacists and professionals like San Francisco pharmacy technicians. It is estimated that only 50 percent of Americans take their medications as prescribed. According to a July 2009 report by the New England Health Institute, as much as $290 billion a year is spent on hospitalizations, doctor visits and other healthcare related to patients taking their prescription medication incorrectly.

The passage of Medication Therapy Management Expanded Benefits Act of 2010 could potentially save valuable lives and significant dollars. In the meantime, the demand for qualified professionals who can assist patients and pharmacists will continue to increase. Now may be the best time for you to start your career as a pharmacy technician in San Jose or a PT in Santa Clara. See how Unitek College can get you started on the important and growing Pharmacy Technician field!

For additional information on the Medication Therapy Management Expanded Benefits Act of 2010, please visit:

http://www.nacds.org/wmspage.cfm?parm1=6857

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New Survey Recognizes Importance of Certified Pharmacy Technicians, Predicts Strong Job Growth

If you’ve thought of pursuing a career with a Northern California pharmacy, the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB) has some news that may help jumpstart your job training.

A recent PTCB-sponsored survey found that Certified Pharmacy Technicians (CPhTs) play a critical role in ensuring medication safety, and have positive effects on overall patient care. According to the PTCB’s June announcement, the study found that 81 percent of pharmacists surveyed believed that pharmacy technician certification is associated with a reduction in the number of medication-related errors.

More than 3,200 pharmacists, representing a range of professional practices throughout the country, participated in the survey, which was administered by Drs. Shane Desselle and Michael Schmitt of the University of Oklahoma College Of Pharmacy.

In addition to recognizing the favorable role that Certified Pharmacy Technicians have on lowering the number of medication errors, the study also revealed that 83 percent of pharmacists surveyed found that working with CPhTs gave them additional time to focus directly on patient care.

“This survey provides the data to support something we have known for years but are now able to quantify; well-trained and PTCB Certified Pharmacy Technicians make a positive impact on patient care,” said Melissa MurerCorrigan, R.Ph., Executive Director and CEO of PTCB.

The survey results, revealed at the PTCB’s March 2010 annual American Pharmacists Association meeting, are encouraging for anyone considering a career as a Certified Pharmacy Technician. As an additional incentive, the PTCB predicts a sharp increase in the demand for Certified Pharmacy Technicians. From large San Francisco pharmacies, to neighborhood businesses in Pleasanton, the PTCB report states that positions for Certified Pharmacy Technicians are expected to increase by 25 percent by 2018.

As one of the leading organizations dedicated to promoting effective working practices between Pharmacists and Pharmacy Technicians, the PTCB also predicts a strong increase in the demand for patient-centered care. The organization points to the country’s aging population and increasingly complex medication requirements as leading factors in this anticipated healthcare trend. Now more than ever, the pharmaceutical industry needs qualified professionals, including Bay Area Pharmacy Technicians, who can assist licensed pharmacists with patients and dispensing medications.

One of the best ways to take advantage of the exciting growth in pharmacy technician field is to enroll in a quality training program from a recognized education institution. Unitek College features an accredited course to prepare you for the in-demand role of a Pharmacy Technician. See how you can get on the path to a pharmacy technician career, today!

*Additional details on the PTCB study can be found at:
https://www.ptcb.org/AM/Template.cfm?Section=PTCB_News&template=/CM/ContentDisplay.cfm&ContentID=3816