BILLINGS, Mont.—The not-for-profit Billings Clinic integrated healthcare organization includes a hospital, a multispecialty group practice with more than 240 physicians, a skilled-nursing facility and, soon, its own set of retail clinics. Billings will be opening its first ExpressCare clinic in an Albertsons grocery store in December. Plans call for the second clinic to be opened inside an Albertsons as well, but Billings spokeswoman Arianne Snyder said Billings is not limited to working only with Albertsons. While walk-up service will be available, electronic appointment scheduling is also offered. “Having Billings Clinic services at ExpressCare means that the providers will have access to the patient's medical record,” Dr. Deborah Agnew, a pediatrician and chief of primary care at Billings Clinics, said in a news release. “This means that the care delivered at ExpressCare is one more component of continuity and coordination in the patient's health plan by including access to medication information, medical history, and a record of the services provided at the ExpressCare visit.” Along with treating conditions such as colds, allergies, bladder infections and ear pain, the clinics will offer pregnancy and influenza tests and a variety of immunizations. Prices for these services will range from $25 to $75. Most major insurance plans will be accepted.
Regional News/West: Billings Clinic opens its first retail clinic
SACRAMENTO, Calif.—Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed legislation that would have allowed California pharmacists to dispense substitute medications that are biologically similar to brand-name treatments. Biological medicines, which are created from living cells rather than by mixing chemicals, have been used to treat cancer and immune-system disorders. Those treatments are becoming a fast-growing segment of the pharmaceutical market, with manufacturers also creating medications that are similar to some biological medicines. Unlike traditional generic medications, the biosimilars resemble but are not identical to the biological medication they are replicating. In his veto message, Brown wrote that he supports allowing pharmacists to substitute a potentially cheaper biosimilar medication for a brand-name treatment once these drugs are approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. However, he says the state should wait until federal regulators determine when biosimilars can be used. Brown added that a second portion of the bill, which would have required pharmacists to contact the prescribing doctor to inform which medication was dispensed, seemed premature. He noted that doctors he spoke with would welcome the information, but that the California Public Employees' Retirement System believed the requirement “would cast doubt on the safety and desirability of more cost-effective alternatives to biologics.”
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