HHS clears vending-machine prescription drug delivery pilot program

WASHINGTON (Reuters Health) – Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Tommy Thompson announced on Friday the approval of two pilot projects aimed at making prescription drugs more readily available to safety-net patients–including a program that will use vending machines to deliver drugs to health centers in remote locations.

Safety-net patients generally are uninsured or indigent Americans. In 1992, the government created a program known as 340B to ensure that pharmacies serving these patients would have access to discounted medications. Drugmakers were required to provide those pharmacies with discounted products as a condition for participating in the Medicaid program.

Earlier this year, HHS said it would attempt to help the pharmacies develop new programs aimed at expanding their ability to buy drugs and improving patients' access to the medications.

Under one of the pilot projects announced on Friday, pharmacists at the Community Health Association of Spokane, Washington will be permitted to dispense prescription drugs to remote health clinics through vending machines.

HHS said the vending machines will be controlled through a computer link that allows pharmacists at the main facility to fill prescriptions that have been faxed to them by the remote clinics. Patients will not retrieve their medications directly from the vending machines, but will be given them by pharmacy technicians who have removed them from the machine and affixed the proper labeling.

If necessary, pharmacists at the central Spokane location will be able to dispense advice to patients at remote clinics through videoconferencing equipment.

The second pilot project allows Hudson Headwaters Health Network of Ticonderoga, New York to contract with multiple pharmacies to serve the network's 11 clinics.

"These imaginative demonstrations offer solutions to two circumstances–isolation and lack of competition–that conspire to deprive uninsured and underserved Americans of the prescription medications they need at a fair price," Thompson said in a statement.

According to HHS, community safety-net providers distribute over $2 billion in prescription medications to about 10 million Americans each year. The drugs are usually discounted by between 25% and 40%.

0 תגובות

השאירו תגובה

רוצה להצטרף לדיון?
תרגישו חופשי לתרום!

כתיבת תגובה

מידע נוסף לעיונך

כתבות בנושאים דומים