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Pharmacy Database Program Helps Keep Consumers' Refills Current

Prescription compliance increased 25 percent for Coumadin, a blood thinner from DuPont Pharma, after patients received a personalized reminder to refill prescriptions. The conversion rate for a similar program for over-the-counter drugs is even higher.

A patient who misses the refill date on his medication can automatically receive a personalized reminder from his pharmacist through the Patient Care Enhancing Program available at 2,000 pharmacies nationwide from McKesson Corp.

When patients fill a prescription, they can join PCEP and receive mailings concerning their medications. McKesson, the San Francisco healthcare supply management company, instituted the opt-in feature to address patient concerns on privacy and confidentiality. Patients can opt out of PCEP at any time by calling a telephone number found in each letter.

McKesson uses its Omnilink database and software system to administer its three PCEP elements: Refill Reminder, Over the Counter Companion and Patient Direct.

Omnilink processes prescriptions at Valu-Rite/CareMax and Health Mart Preferred pharmacies. It can track in real time if a prescription has been refilled, then produce a reminder letter that stresses the importance of taking the specific medication on a regular basis. The letter includes the local pharmacy name, patient name, product and refill number so the patient can call the pharmacy directly and get the refill.

McKesson recently purchased a fulfillment house and now handles the entire prescription process, from patient data entry to database management, printing and lettershop. It started the reminder program late last year.

The OTC Companion provides suggestions and special offers on over-the-counter medications that can work in tandem with a prescription. Patient Direct educates patients about their health conditions and medications. This is done without providing pharmaceutical manufacturers access to patient-specific information.

One of the first OTC Companion campaigns generated a 43.2 percent response rate for the Nicorette and Nicoderm CQ anti-smoking products from SmithKlineBeecham. In a recent campaign aimed at parents of children taking the SmithKline antibiotic Augmentin, more than 23 percent responded to a $1-off coupon offer for the Aquafresh Flexosaurus toothbrush. The letter to parents stressed the importance of changing toothbrushes when children contract a virus.

The PCEP is intended to improve prescription compliance, create a stronger connection between patient and pharmacist and increase pharmaceutical brand loyalty. Schering Plough and Hoechst Marion Roussel also have participated in a PCEP.

“Pharmacists wanted to be looked upon more as patient care providers than pill counters,” said Ellen Weiss, marketing director at McKesson.

McKesson is working through software issues with 500 pharmacies and is constantly targeting small- and medium-sized dispensers to add Omnilink software and start a PCEP.

“[Many pharmacies] don't have resources to set this up themselves,” Weiss said. “They find it very useful to stay competitive with chains that also run these programs.”

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