Doctor Docs: Pen & Pad Still Preferred

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services require that physicians adopt e-prescribing for meaningful use of EHR, and if they don’t comply, prescribers face a penalty. Doctor Directory, a marketing solutions company that performs market research with healthcare professionals, surveyed 250 practicing healthcare prescribers throughout the U.S.

The 2012 study revealed that only six out of 10 physicians are currently submitting prescriptions electronically. That means 40% of prescribers are being hit with a 1.5% payment adjustment on their Medicare Part B services in 2013. Apparently, the fine is not enough incentive to get these physicians on-board with the new electronic format.

While e-prescribing offers many benefits, the industry is questioning why more physicians aren’t adopting quicker. According to the most recent IMS Health and Surescripts prescription data, approximately four billion prescriptions were dispensed in 2011, of which 570 million were e-prescriptions. A majority of physicians are e-prescribing but a significant number of them strongly prefer pen and pad prescriptions. Erez Lapsker, Chief Executive Officer of MediScripts, summed it up, “Prescribers are considering e-prescribing systems, which are rapidly adapting to meet their needs, but until physicians gain comfort with the technology many will continue to depend on time-trusted, easy-to-use pen and paper.”

Trend Setting: New Diabetes Site Leader in Town?


Think the American Diabetes Association’s website ( is the No. 1 go-to resource for diabetic sufferers? Surprisingly, there is a new leader on the horizon. Alliance Health Network recently reported that its largest social site,, is the top-ranking online destination for people with diabetes. reached nearly 1.4 million unique monthly visitors during the month of January, followed by, according to data from comScore.

Diabetic Connect is a social forum for patients that is also used by pharma companies looking to connect more intimately with the consumers who use their products. It empowers members to actively engage in their health, accessing timely information such as expert research, product reviews, videos, recipes and news. Patients can also access a health tracking tool to better monitor their blood glucose and HbA1c levels. Registered members of Diabetic Connect have the choice to remain anonymous, giving them the freedom to share personal information and experiences without exposing their identity.

The trend reflects consumers’ increasing willingness to turn to social sites for support in managing and coping with their specific disease conditions. According to Dan Hickey, Senior Vice President of Products at Alliance Health Networks, “Consumers are telling us that topical health content alone isn’t sufficient. They are seeking out destinations like Diabetic Connect where they can anonymously ask questions, share stories and connect with other people affected by diabetes.”

 Sales Sector: Traditional Drug Prescription Sales Fall

U.S. sales of traditional pharmacy drug prescriptions in 2012 declined for the first time in more than 20 years. According to Express Scripts Drug Trend Report, total spending on branded prescriptions in the pharmacy fell 1.5% in 2012 among the insured population, but was offset by an 18.4% increase in spending on specialty medications.

What is behind this overall decline? The report credits the success of Express Scripts’ utilization management programs and an uptick of generic prescriptions, home delivery and more focused retail pharmacy networks. Here are some other key reasons:

• Increased patent expirations in 2012 led to an increased usage of lower-cost generics for eight out of 10 traditional therapeutic areas.

• Diabetes prescription drugs have been the most popular class of therapies in the U.S. with an 11% increase in spending in 2012. Popular insulin drugs have also seen a price increase.

• Attention disorder medication spending has increased 14.2% in 2012 due to a cost per unit increase of 5.4% as a result of shortage of active ingredients, and an 8.8% increase in usage by a rising number of adult patients.

• Meanwhile, the 18.4% offset was attributed to a 24.5% total U.S. drug spend within the pharmacy benefit on specialty medication prescriptions, the highest percentage on record. This is due to cost increases among this sector, new drug development and rising utilization.

Also important to keep in mind: Brand-name drug pricing increased by 12.5% in 2012, while pricing for generics declined 24%.

TeleMed Text: Consumers Open to Virtual Doc Visit

Technology is transforming how we do things, even when it comes to a doctor’s visit—and there is a study to prove it. A Cisco Customer Experience study surveyed 1,547 consumers and healthcare decision makers across 10 countries and accessed their views on sharing personal health data, participating in face-to-face versus remote care and using technology to make recommendations on personal health. The results are telling.

The study concluded that face-to-face interaction with doctors is not always the preferred method of healthcare. In fact, 75% of consumers would choose virtual interaction over seeing their doctor in-person.

Three key findings of the research are indicative of how much consumers across the globe rely on technology. 1) In China, Russia and Mexico, nearly 75% of consumers would be comfortable virtually communicating with a doctor (e.g., video chatting, text messaging) for a health condition. 2) More than 60% of consumers from Germany, Japan and the U.S. indicate being comfortable with the idea of being treated by a specialist using virtual technology. 3) Mexico, Brazil and China show significant consumer interest in mobile health. Four in 10 consumers prefer receiving personal healthcare information and 25% of them are using healthcare apps for chronic disease management and are receiving health-related reminders on their mobile devices.

FDA Update

OPDP Restructures

In hopes of increasing efficiency and eliminating redundancy, the Office of Prescription Drug Promotion (OPDP) will restructure and rename its two divisions—the Division of Consumer Drug Promotion and the Division of Professional Drug Promotion will become the Division of Advertising and Promotion Review I and the Division of Advertising and Promotion Review II, respectively upon approval. Both divisions will continue to handle DTC and health professional promotion but will oversee different therapeutic areas. With these changes, OPDP hopes to better ensure that prescription drug advertising is truthful, balanced and not misleading.

Draft Guidance

The FDA issued draft guidance to manufacturers of drugs, medical devices, biologics and veterinary products on the appropriate language to include in the labeling of a product or product container that is not made with natural rubber latex (NRL). The guidance encourages manufacturers to avoid using “latex free” or “does not contain natural rubber latex” since they are not scientifically accurate. Instead, the FDA recommends manufacturers use the labeling statement “not made with natural rubber latex” to indicate when NRL was not used as a material in the medical product or product container.

Drug Approvals for Women

The FDA approved Shionogi’s Osphena (ospemifene) to treat women experiencing moderate to severe dyspareunia (pain during sexual intercourse), a symptom of vulvar and vaginal atrophy due to menopause. Genentech’s Kadcyla (ado-trastuzumab emtansine), was approved for patients with HER2-positive, late-stage (metastatic) breast cancer. Allergan’s Natrelle 410 Highly Cohesive Anatomically Shaped Silicone-Gel Filled Breast Implant was approved to increase breast size in women at least 22 years old and to rebuild breast tissue in women of any age.



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