Article Date: 4/1/2002

Practice Pulse
Tips, Trends & News You Can Use

NOVARTIS BREAKS NEW GROUND
First to Offer Discount Prescription Program

Novartis Pharmaceuticals has announced the implementation of the Novartis Care Card, the first discount program in the ophthalmic industry to offer discounted prescription drugs to low-income Medicare recipients. The free card will provide 25% discounts off the wholesale prices of prescription medications.

To qualify, individuals must be Medicare recipients with an annual income not more than 300% of the Federal Poverty level of $26,000 for an individual and $35,000 for a married couple. They must also lack other prescription drug coverage. About 10 million Americans will be eligible.

Dan Myers, president of Novartis Ophthalmics, North America, says, "Through the Novartis Care Card, we can assist elderly patients in getting the medications needed to treat glaucoma and other serious eye conditions that affect seniors."

Call 1-866-974-CARE or visit http://www.novartis.com/carecard for more information.

Source: CIBA Vision e-mail survey, February 2002 (436 ECPs responded)

BETTER ACCEPTED LAZY EYE TREATMENT
Eye Drops Work as Well as Patches

You all know how troublesome it can be to treat amblyopia. Traditionally you've used an eye patch to cover the patient's strong eye and strengthen the weaker eye, but patients aren't usually fond of this method. Brian Forbes, M.D., Ph.D., primary investigator from The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP), echoes this fact. He says, "Very young children tear the patch off while older patients find patches socially inhibiting." That's why the results of this research are so important. "Atropine drops are now a proven treatment option for eyecare professionals in consultation with parents," says Dr. Forbes.

Researchers at CHOP have concluded that the use of atropine eye drops is equally effective as an eye patch for treating amblyopia. In the Amblyopia Treatment Study, sponsored by the National Institutes of Health, 215 children (7 years old and younger, with visual acuities in the amblyopic eye between 20/40 and 20/100) were randomly assigned to receive patching and 204 were assigned to receive eyedrops. Seventy-nine percent of those receiving the patch were successfully treated, compared to 74 % of those receiving atropine drops -- a clinically insignificant difference.

Vision in the amblyopic eye improved faster in the patching group, but at 6 months, the difference between using a patch and using drops was small and not statistically significant. Given this fact, think of the other benefit: With drops, parents only place one drop in the child's good eye once a day. With a patch, parents have to make sure that the child wears it for 6 hours or more every day for weeks or months. What will you choose for your next amblyopic patient?

HIPAA IN JEOPARDY?
President Seeks to Drop Privacy Rule

Secretary of Health and Human Services Tommy G. Thompson has announced that President Bush proposes dropping a requirement of the rules protecting medical records. The President believes that doctors and hospitals shouldn't have to obtain a patient's consent before using or disclosing their medical information to other doctors or insurers.

Secretary Thompson says he agrees with the proposal, which is to appear in the Federal Register, because he believes that the rule could delay care. Pharmacists and hospitals think so as well.

The new rule would mandate that doctors and other healthcare providers must still notify patients of their rights and of provider disclosure policies. Healthcare providers would ask patients to state in writing that they had been notified, but could treat them without the acknowledgement. Patients would, however, still have a federal right to inspect and copy their records and request corrections.

Congress could try to legislate privacy standards and overrule President Bush, but that's thought to be unlikely. The public has 30 days for comment after the proposal is published in the Federal Register.

O.D. NOTEBOOK

PEOPLE AND PROMOTIONS

COMPANY NEWS

Use the DC-3300 with various delivery systems, such as slit lamps, BIOs and endoprobes.

LensExpress Authorized to Sell Vistakon Lenses

LensExpress is announcing in radio and television advertisements and on its Web site home page that it's "the first mail-order company authorized by the manufacturer to sell Vistakon's Acuvue and Surevue contact lenses."

CALIFORNIA LITIGATION
Chains Cited for Deceptive Advertising

On February 14, California Attorney General Bill Lockyer filed a lawsuit against Cole National Corporation and its related subsidiaries, including Pearle Vision Center, mainly around claims of deceptive advertising and a possible violation of Business and Professions code 655. In March, a class action suit claiming deceptive advertising and a violation of the Confidential Medical Act was filed in San Francisco against Lens-Crafters and its parent company, Luxottica.

The president of The California Optometric Association (COA), sent a letter to all COA members informing them that the association's legal counsel will monitor the two complaints and report on the litigations at the 2002 House of Delegates meeting.

Former President Carter Keynote SpeakerFormer President Jimmy Carter will be the keynote speaker at the 2002 American Optometric Association Congress in New Orleans from June 25 ­ 30. His topic will be children's eyecare issues, and he will address his own family's experiences.


Optometric Management, Issue: April 2002