VHA Helps Hospitals Save Up to 30 Percent on the Drugs They Buy Most; VHA Works With Hospital Clinicians on Standardization Efforts

Nov 01, 2004, 00:00 ET from VHA Inc.

    IRVING, Texas, Nov. 1 /PRNewswire/ -- VHA Inc., the national health care
 cooperative, is helping hospitals shave millions from their pharmacy budgets
 by helping them plan and implement standardization and utilization programs
 for their most commonly-used drugs.
     VHA has a team of more than one dozen clinical pharmacists across the
 country that helps hospitals and health systems develop and implement plans to
 trim their growing pharmacy budgets.  Today, pharmaceuticals represent
 22 percent of hospitals' total supply budgets and medication costs are growing
 faster than total health care costs (12 percent to 7 percent), annually.
 Oftentimes, reimbursement for high-cost pharmaceuticals doesn't cover the cost
 of the drugs, so hospital pharmacy departments incur heavy losses.
     "We help hospitals save between 10 percent and 30 percent on the drugs
 they buy most often," said Bruce Weiner, senior director of pharmacy for VHA.
 "The net savings for the overall pharmacy budget differs for each
 organization, but the overall impact is still significant."
     At DCH Regional Medical Center in Tuscaloosa, Ala., VHA's pharmacy team
 not only helped the organization identify and prioritize opportunities to
 reduce pharmacy costs, but also assisted with implementation.  Ultimately, DCH
 saved more than $600,000 in 2004, with VHA's help.
     According to Tim Martin, director of pharmacy at DCH, "The clinical
 experience that VHA's pharmacy team brings to the table helped us manage
 objectives and approach this project with a clearer vision."
     VHA pharmacists work with hospital pharmacy teams to identify
 opportunities to standardize drugs based on existing prescription and drug
 administration patterns and the mix of patients in the hospitals and
 communities.  Hospitals often were purchasing multiple drugs with similar
 chemical composition and clinical purpose.  The VHA team demonstrates the
 clinical equivalency of these drugs and highlights the savings opportunities
 from standardizing on a single agent.  The team also helps member hospitals
 benchmark their pharmacy purchasing patterns with other VHA members and
 examine drug costs in hospital departments that have high drug usage, such as
 intensive care units.
     The VHA pharmacy team focuses on high cost drug products and therapeutic
 categories.  The following nine drug product categories commonly represent
 more than 60 percent of most hospital pharmacy budgets:
      --  Glycoprotein IIb/IIIa inhibitors
      --  5HT3 receptor antagonists, also called antiemetics
      --  Low molecular weight heparins
      --  Anticoagulants
      --  Antibiotics
      --  Antifungals
      --  Oncolytics
      --  Oncology adjuvants
      --  Critical Care Medications
     VHA leverages the bulk purchasing volume of member health care
 organizations to create purchasing contracts that help members lower their
 total supply costs.  VHA members use the purchasing agreements that are
 managed by Novation, VHA's supply company.  Using Novation agreements, VHA
 members, along with health care organizations that belong to the University
 HealthSystem Consortium, will purchase nearly $8 billion in pharmaceutical
 products in 2004.
     About VHA
     VHA Inc. is a national cooperative of leading not-for-profit health care
 organizations that work together to improve the health of the communities they
 serve.  VHA leverages the collective strength of the membership to help
 members improve clinical, operational and financial performance.  Through the
 VHA cooperative, members benefit from resources to assess critical needs and
 identify best practices to create customized solutions to improve.  As a
 cooperative, VHA distributes income annually to members based on their
 participation.  Based in Irving, Texas, with 18 offices across the United
 States, VHA was named one of the "100 Best Companies to Work For" by Fortune
 in January 2004, for the fifth year in a row.
      Lynn Gentry                     Kristin Lucido
      VHA Inc.                        Novation
      972/830-0798                    972/581-5116
      lgentry@vha.com                 klucido@novationco.com