California R.Ph. network targets Rx cost and care

April 4, 2005

The California Pharmacists Association has created a new network to leverage the professional knowledge of community pharmacists to help meet the cost and quality-related medication needs of the healthcare marketplace.

The California Pharmacists Association has created a new network to leverage the professional knowledge of community pharmacists to help meet the cost and quality-related medication needs of the healthcare marketplace.

The Premier Pharmacists Networks (PPN) packages the services of cre-dentialed pharmacists who ensure that patients receive the most benefit from their drugs while identifying ways they and payers can stretch their medication dollars. Employers and health plans can purchase the medication therapy management services as a stand-alone benefit or as an integrated component of disease-management programs or of population-based medication-use initiatives. Patients can also pay cash.

The PPN is an outgrowth of research into barriers that keep pharmacists from offering services, and employers and health plans from using those services, said CEO Michael Negrete, Pharm.D. The upshot was a plan to form a firm to do the upfront work of developing a network and marketing the services of pharmacists who don't have time to build such a practice on their own.

Pharmacists who want to participate will have to go through a vetting process, which is being finalized. In addition to checking licensure and education, PPN will give candidates a couple of random case studies to see if they can critically evaluate therapy and patient needs and communicate their recommendations to the patient and provider. "I don't think it will be a big ordeal," added Negrete.

Qualified pharmacists will sign a contract with PNN, which will reimburse them for their services. Although the fee hasn't been finalized, Negrete said, PPN is "trying to end up with a rate of what it would take for the pharmacist to step away from the counter to start seeing patients. We hope it will be equivalent at least to what they would make filling scripts."