Medco, Illinois, Community Retail Pharmacies Launch 'Wired' Collaborative Solution

CHICAGO, Dec. 9 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Uniting the world's most advanced pharmacy with local community-based pharmacies, government employees and university-based research teams utilizing a coordinated and "wired" approach to close medication-related gaps in healthcare may represent the most innovative partnership of its kind. 

Medco Health Solutions, Inc. (NYSE: MHS) today announced a collaboration that includes the State of Illinois, the Illinois Pharmacists Association (IPhA), the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) College of Pharmacy and Mirixa Corporation to determine the effectiveness of training community pharmacies using an advanced networked safety system to identify medication-related issues and provide clinical interventions to improve patient health outcomes and lower costs. 

"This large-scale study tests, under actual field conditions, several vital aspects of real healthcare reform. It transforms traditional competitors into collaborators; creates a partnership across private business, public employers and research institutions; and leverages advanced technology using evidence-based protocols to efficiently identify and effectively close gaps in care for patients who are suffering chronic and complex conditions - patients who account for 96 percent of all drug costs and 75 percent of all medical spending," said Kenny Klepper, Medco president and chief operating officer.

Medco, which manages pharmacy benefits for the state of Illinois' employees, retirees and their families, will as part of its administration of the state's pharmacy plan identify patients that may not be following their doctor's orders related to prescribed medications or have not been prescribed essential medicines for treatment in four widespread therapeutic categories: cardiovascular, diabetes, pulmonary and neuroscience. 

The UIC College of Pharmacy will provide specialized clinical training and guidance to as many as 100 community pharmacists on the most effective means to identify and address underlying patient barriers to close these clinical gaps. Medco-developed alerts, delivered through MirixaPro(SM), will be transmitted in real-time to community pharmacies in a secured, wired system. The 26-week study will track the success of these pharmacists to close gaps by counseling patients and coordinating care with physicians. 

"Medco research revealed more than 25,000 of our state employees and their dependents with chronic or complex conditions may not be taking all the medicines they need to stay healthy or following their doctor's instructions. Medicines that aren't taken can't be effective -- placing our employees' health at risk, and unnecessarily burdening Illinois taxpayers with higher medical costs," said Gov. Pat Quinn. "I am proud that we are leading the country in an organized effort to prove that innovation, collaboration and clinical excellence drives true healthcare reform by delivering better health outcomes at lower costs." 

Added Michael Minesinger, RPh., J.D., Chairman, Illinois Pharmacists Association: "This initiative recognizes the value provided by community pharmacists across Illinois and creates an opportunity to set a new standard for high-quality, personalized patient care. It will also allow pharmacists to be compensated appropriately, for providing these value-added clinical services, and we encourage all community pharmacies to participate." 

Medco will analyze prescription drug records daily to identify patients with potential adherence and omission gaps. The company will transmit electronic alerts via MirixaPro to trained community pharmacists when potential adherence gaps or omissions are identified -- for example, when a patient at a high risk for a heart attack isn't taking their cholesterol medication in accordance with evidence-based standards. 

The Critical Clinical Imperative

A national survey released earlier this year found that 54 percent of Americans do not adhere to their medication regimen. This accelerates disease progression and complications, and reduces functional abilities, lowers the quality of life or leads to premature death. Avoidable healthcare spending directly related to non-adherence costs approximately $290 billion annually, according to a recent study by the New England Healthcare Institute. 

For the targeted Illinois patient population participating in this study, adherence to oral diabetes medication, blood pressure medication and cholesterol medication create a significant opportunity for savings if gaps are closed effectively through pharmacist counseling. Additional savings will primarily be associated with improvements in adherence for anti-platelet and anti-seizure medications. 

Approximately 50 percent of the cost of the study is directed to UIC's community pharmacist training program and pharmacists' counseling fees. The partners estimate millions of dollars in savings are possible related to lower medical expenses as member compliance with chronic drug therapies improves. 

"Medco's aim is to improve total healthcare outcomes for its members across the country whether they use the Medco Pharmacy with our specialist pharmacists, or one of our partnering community pharmacies with trained pharmacists guided by Medco clinical alerts. We are proud to share our expertise, enabled by our proprietary technology to raise the standard of care. We believe this initiative is a model example of true healthcare reform," Klepper added. 

About Medco

Medco Health Solutions, Inc. (NYSE: MHS) is pioneering the world's most advanced pharmacy® and its clinical research and innovations are part of Medco making medicine smarterTM for more than 60 million members.

With more than 20,000 employees dedicated to improving patient health and reducing costs for a wide range of public and private sector clients, and 2008 revenue exceeding $51 billion, Medco ranks 45th on the Fortune 500 list and is named among the world's most innovative, most admired and most trustworthy companies.

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About Illinois Pharmacists Association

Founded in 1880, the Illinois Pharmacists Association is dedicated to enhancing the professional competency of pharmacists, advancing the standards of pharmacy practice, improving pharmacists' effectiveness in assuring rational drug use in society, advocating for access to improving patient care, and leading in the resolution of public policy issues affecting pharmacists and proudly representing pharmacists in all practice settings. 

About University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) College of Pharmacy

Established in 1859, the UIC College of Pharmacy stands as the oldest academic unit of the University of Illinois, one of the largest and most comprehensive research universities in the nation. The University of Illinois at Chicago College of Pharmacy enjoys a national reputation for excellence and has been ranked among the top college of pharmacy for scholarship, curriculum, and the quality of faculty and students. 

The UIC College of Pharmacy provides leadership in education, research, public service, entrepreneurship and business activities, and patient care to guide and serve the pharmaceutical care needs of society - extending from the people of Illinois to the global community. 

About Mirixa Corporation

Mirixa Corporation, sponsored by the National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA), is the leader in targeted patient care services delivered via the nation's largest pharmacy-based patient care network. Dedicated to improving patients' health, Mirixa enables the health care community to deliver patient care services through retail pharmacy. The MirixaPro(SM) web-based clinical platform is used by pharmacists to deliver standardized patient care services. For more information, please visit

This press release contains "forward-looking statements" as that term is defined in the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. These statements involve risks and uncertainties that may cause results to differ materially from those set forth in the statements. No forward-looking statement can be guaranteed, and actual results may differ materially from those projected. We undertake no obligation to publicly update any forward-looking statement, whether as a result of new information, future events, or otherwise. Forward-looking statements in this press release should be evaluated together with the risks and uncertainties that affect our business, particularly those mentioned in the Risk Factors section of the Company's Annual Report on Form 10-K and Quarterly Reports on Form 10-Q filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission. 

SOURCE: Medco Health Solutions, Inc.

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