FRANKLIN LAKES, NJ, STOCKHOLM, Sweden, March 31 Medco Health Solutions, Inc. (NYSE: MHS) today announced a collaboration withSweden's government-operated retail pharmacy authority, Apoteket, to developand test the first automated electronic prescription-review system to improveclinical and financial outcomes for Swedish patients and the country's healthcare system.
Under the agreement, Medco and Apoteket will jointly develop an advanced,customized system to perform safety-checks on each prescription prior todispensing - warning pharmacists of drug interactions, excessive dosing or anyother issue related to dispensing a prescription. Such drug utilizationreview systems are commonplace today in the United States, but do not exist inmany other countries.
Adverse drug events are a considerable and urgent problem. In Sweden itis estimated that 30 percent of the emergency care visits and 10 percent ofall hospital admissions are the result of prescription drug-related issues.
"As more patients in Sweden are routinely treated by larger numbers ofdoctors, and in the future they may use different pharmacies, this system willprovide a safety net for patients and their physicians, who may not be awareof all the medicines that may have been prescribed by other clinicians," saidErik Thorsell, Apoteket's executive for quality assurance.
Currently, all Swedish pharmacies are operated by Apoteket, the governmententity responsible for prescription pharmacy care nationwide. The new systemis being developed as Sweden moves toward deregulating the retail pharmacymarket in 2009.
"Many of the health care issues abroad are different than those faced inthe United States, however the quest for patient safety, clinical excellence,dispensing accuracy and lower cost remains the same," said John Driscoll,Medco president for New Markets. "We are committed to supporting payors andpatients in any market where our innovative and proprietary technologies couldhelp to lower the cost of delivering high-quality clinical care."
The utilization review system to be developed for Sweden is intended tobecome part of the common high-technology infrastructure used by all retailpharmacies in the future, when the Swedish retail pharmacy market isderegulated and competitors enter the marketplace. This would ensurecomprehensive, uniform and consistent reviews of each prescription, for allpatients, independent of which pharmacy is used to dispense the medicine.
"We are delighted that the Swedish government endorses the development ofthese technologies. Our combined experience will allow us to quickly developand implement an industry-leading drug utilization review system, customizedfor the Swedish market - achieving considerable savings for the health caresystem and improving the quality of care for individual patients," said StefanCarlsson, Apoteket managing director.
Added Driscoll: "We are pleased to work with Apoteket in support of thisinitiative to embrace innovative and proprietary technologies that will helpto raise the standards for quality pharmacy care, improving financial andclinical outcomes for patients and society. This places Sweden at theforefront across Europe for advancing the standards for pharmacy care providedto their citizens."
Financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed and this transactionis not expected to have an impact on Medco's earnings or results ofoperations.
Medco Health Solutions, Inc., (NYSE: MHS) is the nation's leading pharmacybenefit manager based on its 2007 total net revenues of more than $44 billion.Medco's prescription drug benefit programs, covering one in five Americans,are designed to drive down the cost of pharmacy health care for private andpublic employers, health plans, labor unions and government agencies of allsizes, and for individuals served