11 posts categorized "Branding"


Can technology stop drug prices from rising?

There has been a well-documented trend toward higher drug prices in the US. Turing Pharma turned heads by raising the price of Daraprim® by 5,000 percent, and there has been more news coverage of the practice of hiking drug prices. At the same time, new technologies and group purchasing power are being harnessed to counteract this trend. These two competing forces will help shape the ongoing debate on drug pricing.

In early February 2016, Blink Health announced the launch of its mobile app and website, purposed to help consumers secure the lowest possible retail price. Blink is not a retail pharmacy, but it works with MedImpact, a pharmacy benefits management company affiliated with 60,000 pharmacy locations. Users can supposedly get better prices on generics, because Blink can use its group purchasing power to negotiate lower prices. The app and website quote a price, which the user pays prior to going to the pharmacy. He/she still must provide a prescription to the retail pharmacy, but the price is secured for any of the affiliated locations.

Blink claims that users can save 80% on generics; that 40% of its medications cost less than $5; and, that 50% of its medications cost less than $10. The company claims that higher prices cause patients to skip doses and to stop the regimen entirely. They claim that their tool will help increase access to medications through lower prices.

Navigating drug pricing is notoriously labyrinthine. Most retailers do not post their prices and prices vary for different consumers and consumer types within the same market. Lisa Gill, deputy editor of Consumer Reports Best Buy Drugs is quoted by the NY Times saying, “The prices are all over the map, even within the same ZIP code.”

Since 2006, Wal-Mart, the world’s largest retailer, has been providing certain generics for $4 for a 30 day prescription. The company maintains a list of drugs that it provides at that price. The company provides this price by using its purchasing power, and by taking advantage of its distribution system. There are other programs, such as GoodRX, that aim to provide patients the lowest possible prices on generics. GoodRX is similar to Blink Health, but it provides coupons to be used at the retail site. Blink allows patients to pay for the drug prior to picking it up at one of the affiliated pharmacies.

Brand name drugs fall outside of the scope of these programs. In addition, generic drugs like Daraprim®, which is a sole-source product, will not likely be affected by these and similar price control programs. However, Wal-Mart, Blink, GoodRX and others are applying downward price pressure to the market for generic drugs. Whether this is sufficient to keep prices under control, overall, is yet to be seen. The companies leverage technology to secure lower prices. Consumers demand lower prices, and these services will survive and profit if they provide value to consumers. The prices they offer are closer to the prices paid by insurers.

High drug prices can have a deleterious effect on patient behavior. As Blink Health has claimed, higher prices often discourage patients from filling out prescriptions and often push them to skip doses. Tools that help patients secure drugs at lower prices, even if only in retail settings, should have a positive effect. A case can be made that these tools address only the symptom of higher prices and not the causes. Factors that drive up prices may be ignored, since these tools provide lower prices as an end result. Drug companies can refuse to address higher prices by pointing to these tools as proof that their drugs are ultimately affordable.

The ongoing drug price debate, fueled by Turing’s move and others, highlights the high cost of prescription medications. The new tools take advantage of the information gap between consumer and producers. They do provide a valuable service, although the debate continues. Should there be price controls on critical drugs? Should the US move to a single buyer system, as is the case in Canada and European countries? If so, Blink, GoodRX, and other similar businesses will be impacted, since they would be unable to provide lower prices than that set by the government.

Magdi Stino, Health Policy PhD Candidate


USciences Launches Free Open, Online Courses on iTunes U

ItunesuPeople of all ages and backgrounds across the world are one click away from experiencing a free education from University of the Sciences. That’s because the University recently launched two open, online courses on iTunes to allow individuals to explore the interdisciplinary teaching styles of some of its professors.

“These open, online courses are a tremendous opportunity for universities, like USciences, to draw attention to our high-quality curriculum and outstanding faculty,” said Mark H. Nestor, PhD, associate provost and chief information officer of academic affairs. “This type of forum also allows us to project our brand globally."

Available through a free app in the iTunes Store, iTunes U provides access to thousands of courses prepared by instructors worldwide, including the USciences courses which cover the topics of AIDS and the history of time. These courses are openly available to the public and are made up of several modules, or “lectures.” While enrollment for these online courses is not required, an iTunes account is needed to access them.

Dr. Murphy

Although the concept of the AIDS course was initially developed by Kevin Murphy, PhD, chair of the Department of Humanities; it was further enhanced by including a total of 33 lectures from an interdisciplinary team of USciences faculty. Michelle Ramirez, PhD, MPH, associate professor of anthropology; Samuel Talcott, PhD, assistant professor of philosophy; and Margaret A. Reinhart, director of the Medical Laboratory Science Program, each contributed lectures to this well-rounded course.

“By providing lectures from the medical science, anthropologic, and philosophic perspectives, participants of this course will be able to gather four different and pertinent angles to this international problem,” said Dr. Murphy. “Our course covers topics ranging from the cellular and medical dimensions of AIDS to the gender and ethical elements of the disease.”

Dr. Robson

Similarly, the second USciences course offered on iTunes aims to introduce students to the complex, mysterious, and often elusive nature of time. Spearheaded by history professor, Roy Robson, PhD, students who participate in this course will have the opportunity explore time through a multidisciplinary, historical, and multicultural approach covering diverse fields such as physics, medicine, psychology, sociology, religion, art, and philosophy.

“Although this free service provides self-paced courses without assessment or acknowledgement of completion, it has the potential to encourage students to continue their educations at USciences,” said Dr. Murphy.

Andrew Esposito, instructional designer in the Office of Academic Technology at USciences, developed and produced these courses on iTunes. To access USciences’ free courses via iTunes U, visit http://bit.ly/1kzQvTz.

Click here to listen to KYW Newsradio's June 18 segment regarding USciences' open, online courses.


VIDEO: 6abc Highlights Students, Faculty at USciences Research Day

6abc showcased the diversity and growth of research pursuits at University of the Sciences during its 12th Annual Research Day and 27th Annual John C. Krantz, Jr., Distinguished Lecture on Thursday, April 10. Research Day recognizes and highlights the research efforts of faculty, as well as undergraduate and graduate students, to encourage and promote communication and collaboration among researchers.
USciences distinguishes itself by offering undergraduate students the opportunity to conduct research early in their academic careers. The diverse research activity that was on display spanned several aspects of the University’s scholarly pursuits, including:
  • Determining occupational therapists’ role in working with pediatric cancer patients
  • Discovering the personality traits that cause adolescents to kill
  • Using yoga to improve quality of life for patients with anorexia nervosa
  • Identifying predictors of successful post-secondary transitions for autistic students


Pharmacy, Health Policy Experts to be Featured on NBC10 @ Issue on Sunday

At issueThe U.S. Food and Drug Administration's approval of the potent opioid painkiller Zohydro ER has been met with fierce criticism, both locally and across the nation. Tune into Philadelphia's NBC10  @ Issue on Sunday, March 16, at 11:30 a.m., as University of the Sciences' pharmacy and health policy experts discuss this drug in further detail.

Andrew Peterson PharmD, PhD, Dean of Mayes College of Healthcare Business and Policy; and Dan Hussar, PhD, Remington Professor of Pharmacy, joined reporter Tracy Davidson for a discussion regarding the pros/cons of this drug, as well as its potential dangers and health implications.

NBC10 @ Issue is a weekly public affairs discussion program that takes an in-depth look at local, state and national issues and politics. Watch NBC10 @ Issue every Sunday at 11:30 a.m. on NBC10, or at 6:30 p.m., on NBC10.com


The Biggest Mistakes Transfer Students Make

Viggiani_aimeeChoosing which college to attend is a huge decision for students. Whether they’ve earned their associate’s degrees from community colleges and ready to move on to earn their bachelor’s degrees, or currently enrolled in four-year schools that aren’t the right fit, one-third of all students transfer at least once before earning a degree.

Aimee Viggiani, associate director of transfer admissions, was recently featured in two articles which provide helpful tips for transfer students. She said, "All too often, students wait until too late in their college careers to ask why a certain class didn't transfer. Even if you don't need the credit right away, you may need it in the future. So ask transfer credit questions as soon as possible."


Money Makes the World of Big Pharma Go Round

“Money makes the world go round” –whether you first heard the idiom in the 1960’s musical “Cabaret” or as the title of an R&B song by R. Kelly, the popular phrase is highly relevant to the pharmaceutical industry (pharma).   According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the global pharmaceuticals market is worth $300 billion a year. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services found that retail prescription drug spending in the US rose to $263 billion in 2011, and did so at a faster rate compared to previous years. This rise was attributed to increased prices, especially for new and existing brand name medications. Following this trend, pharmaceutical companies are striving to what they do best—increase profits. A key component that has been linked to lead down this route of increased profits is medication adherence.

The logic seems simple enough—if  pharmaceutical companies can entice patients to remain adherent to their drugs, they can maximize profits while the patients attain the clinical benefit. Existing patients may stop taking a certain medication for any number of reasons, including costs.  Having recognized this, companies are attempting to offset the costs of losing customers by investing in incentives to keep them adherent. Pharmaceutical companies like Merck, Astra Zeneca, and GlaxoSmithKline are providing funding to patients in an effort to keep patients taking their medications. Aside from traditional coupons and vouchers, there is an increased effort in tackling the costs with patient assistance programs. For example, if a patient needs a product made by Shire, they can apply to get assistance for that medication that they otherwise would not be able to afford. While there are many groups like the Partnership for Prescription Assistance, which help patients identify companies and other affiliates that are willing to contribute to costs, one may wonder what incentive the companies who make these drugs have to give them out for free. A look at the 2011 report from the Capgemini Consulting group could explain. This report found that on average, it costs pharma 62% more to market to new patients versus the costs of keeping existing ones.

While it would be comforting to know that pharmaceutical companies are funding medications for the sole satisfaction of increasing accessibility of costly drugs, it’s not pragmatic. Money does make the world go round—especially if you are talking about the $300 billion pharmaceutical world. While the palms of big pharma continue to itch, we can only hope they keep the importance of adherence on their minds.

Anita A. Pothen, PharmD ‘14


Forecasting Medication Non-Adherence: A Profitable Approach That Helps Patients

$290 billion a year—a study by the New England Healthcare Institute found this to be the amount spent in the United States as a result of medication non-adherence and other avoidable issues. An analysis by Capgemini Consulting estimated that $188 billion account for pharmaceutical industry losses in the United States for the same reason. With such considerable monetary losses in addition to the health risks associated with non-adherence, the profitable future for health information technology (health IT) is becoming increasingly apparent.

After recognizing the significant financial costs associated with non-adherence, many insurance providers are utilizing new initiatives based on health IT that aim to predict non-adherence in an effort to proactively address the issue. In early 2011, CVS Caremark introduced its Pharmacy Advisor™ Program, which pays special attention to patients with chronic conditions like diabetes, who are likely to be non-adherent.  In April of 2012, Express Scripts® launched a similar predictive tool called ScreenRx, which detects risk for medication non-adherence and then subsequently provides personalized interventions for those patients. Additionally, companies like RxAnte© and Allazo Health© apply behavioral science, predictive analytics and claims data to formulate algorithms that will allow them to determine which patients would be at an increased risk for non-adherence. They then take it a step further by tailoring interventions according to patient characteristics.

So since there’s no magic crystal ball one can look into to predict medication non-adherence, how do these companies determine who to monitor and intervene with? The key to the above-mentioned initiatives is the incorporation of patient behavior in forecasting non-adherence.

One commonly used model in analyzing health behavior is the Health Belief Model (HBM). This model explains that a patient’s behavior when it comes to health is motivated and influenced by varying perceptions. In essence, the HBM finds that perceived susceptibility, perceived benefits, perceived barriers and perceived seriousness all contribute to decision making when it comes to health, which in this case, would be in reference to taking their medications.

So how relevant is patient behavior when it comes to medication non-adherence? Express Scripts® found that 69% of medication non-adherence was attributed to patient behavior factors including simple procrastination and forgetfulness. With even more advancements in health IT, providers will be able to dissect and rationalize reasons for non-adherence and further analyze patient behavior to formulate optimal regimens that will save billions of dollars all while promoting better health outcomes.

 Anita A. Pothen, PharmD’14


Medication Adherence—There’s An App For That Too!

Medication adherence has been a topic of interest for health care providers, caregivers and third-party providers alike. While practitioners work hard to select optimal drug therapy for their patients, clinical improvements may not always result as expected. This inefficacy in treatment often stems from the inability of patients to adhere to the treatment regimens set forth by providers. While many patients struggle to adhere to their  regimens for a number of reasons, technology-centered initiatives like the MediSafe© Project are taking advantage of the utility of smart phone applications to steer consumers towards better adherence. MediSafe® allows patients to scan drug barcodes, add directions and set alerts so that they are reminded to take them in a timely manner. If patients still fail to take their medication on time, the app can be synced to a loved one or caregiver so that they are alerted that the patient did not follow the regimen as indicated. iPharmacy© is another app available at no cost that offers additional features along with medication reminders.  Some of these tools include a pill identifier, access to information pertaining to drug recalls and a pharmacy locator.

So what if the patient is not particularly keen on the idea of using a smart phone? After all, widespread popularity with smart phones lies predominantly with younger generations. While MediSafe© in particular is working towards improving accessibility by implementing low-tech solutions, there are additional options already in place. EMMA®, (Electronic Medication Management System) is an in-house, FDA-approved comprehensive management system for patients with complex medication regimens. EMMA® houses blister cards of medications that are inserted into the machine like compact discs and can be remotely controlled by pharmacists. The system collects more accurate adherence information, which pharmacists and physicians can access. Though this technology provides considerable accuracy in adherence measurement, it is not a guarantee that all patients will be eligible for coverage and thus may not be able to afford the machine.

While all these approaches differ in one way or another, there is a common theme—improvement in adherence by means of a more involved and integrative strategy that aims to bridge the gap between practitioner initiatives and patient implementation. While finances and the adaptation of the senior population to advances in technology remain as limitations, there is a great deal of progress, such as NCPIE’s National Action Plan that paves the way for better adherence and ultimately, better health outcomes.

Anita Pothen

Pharm.D Candidate 2014


USciences marketing department wins awards

Marcom awardUSciences marketing department is proud to announce that we have won two Platinum and two Gold Awards in the MarCom 2011 Competition.  Two of the awards were received for work that the marketing department did solo:

–        Platinum: 2011-12 Roadmap Marketing Plan

–        Gold: The Bulletin, tradition and digital

And two of the awards were received for work that marketing launched, powered by vendor-partner, The Star Group. http://www.stargroup1.com/

–        Gold: Outcomes Survey & PR Effort

–        Platinum: Channel One TV Spot

“MarCom Awards is an international creative competition that recognizes outstanding achievement by marketing and communications professionals. Award entries came from corporate marketing and communication departments, ad agencies, design studios, production companies and freelancers. Over 6,000 entries from throughout the United States, Canada and several other countries were submitted for the 2011 competition.”

First and foremost, USciences marketing department works for results to increase awareness and positive perception; to drive enrollment and support fundraising; however, we are pleased to be recognized through these awards and by industry professionals for the efforts.

“The Platinum and the Gold Awards are presented to entries which exceed high standards of the industry norm. Approximately 18 percent of the entries were Platinum and were Gold Winners. A complete list of Winners can be found on the MarCom Awards website at www.marcomawards.com.”




Tag! We're It! A Tagline Embodies Tangible Benefits.

Tag you're it 

Quick, name the seven companies or products that go with the taglines below:

  • “Just Do It.”
  • “What happens here, stays here.”
  • “I’m loving it.”
  • “The nighttime sniffling sneezing coughing aching stuffy head fever so you can rest medicine”
  • “The happiest place on earth”
  • “Can you hear me now?”
  • “Eat fresh.”

I’d be willing to bet you immediately came up with six or seven (Nike, Las Vegas, McDonald’s, NyQuil, Disneyland/Walt Disney World, Verizon, Subway). That’s the power of a tagline. A great one serves as a hook, reminding you not only of the product but also what that product will deliver.

In a blog a few weeks ago, we explained the evolution of our brand name and our desire to reinforce what our brand—University of the Sciences—truly represents. As we continued to refine our branding, we wanted to create a tagline that would resonate with students, parents, alumni and guidance counselors, alumni, etc., communicating what USciences is all about and what they could expect from us.

 A great tagline encapsulates our “value proposition,” the benefits that a university, company or product provides to its students or customers, what it promises to deliver, and what makes it the better choice for the consumer. It answers the following questions that a potential customer might ask:

  • Who are you?
  • What are you about?
  • What can you promise me?

 In the case of USciences, our value proposition should give students a solid reason to believe that, when they come to USciences, we are assuring them of a certain type and standard of higher education. What is that education? What do we uniquely have to offer?

 “The culture of a university and its value set are the keys that drive it,” says USciences President Dr. Philip P. Gerbino. “For this institution it’s science and it’s healthcare, and those two values will never change.”

USciences logo 

“Where science and healthcare converge”—USciences newly unveiled tagline—defines both what we are and what we are not. We are not a liberal arts school. We are a school focused on those values Dr. Gerbino identifies: healthcare and science. “We’ve taken the principles of science and health professions,” says Dr. Gerbino, “bonded those together, and [we] make sure they are integrated into all our programs.”

We have a long history of teaching science as it relates to the health professions, and we have no plans to abandon that proposition. Students who come to USciences will be immersed in scientific discovery, training to be leaders in healthcare fields that are expanding every day. That’s a promise.

It’s a promise that is represented in our students’ career paths:

  • Payscale.com has ranked USciences graduates salary potential as 7th in the Northeast and 11th in the nation.
  • U.S. News & World Report ranked us 2nd in the nation in student loan repayment rate, an indication of our graduates’ high earnings.
  • Our acceptance rate into medical school historically has been nearly twice the national average.
  • Historically, within three months of graduation, 90% of our students are employed or have been accepted into graduate school.

“Science is the basis for all the health professions,” says Dr. Gerbino. Nowhere is that better understood—and taught—than at University of the Sciences, where healthcare and science converge.

Hear more of what our president and provost have to say about our new name, logo, and tagline by watching this video.



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