At NACDS conference, Merlo and Anderson note pharmacy victories

Certain challenges still lie ahead

NAPLES, Fla. — Pharmacy's role in the U.S. healthcare system has expanded dramatically over the past two years, thanks to several victories gained through pharmacy care and services.

Speaking at the National Association of Chain Drug Stores' Regional Chain Conference, NACDS board chairman and CVS Caremark president and COO Larry Merlo said that scientific research has further demonstrated how care and services provided by pharmacists and pharmacies have improved health outcomes of patients and cut costs for the healthcare system.

"Investments being made by many pharmacy and healthcare companies are helping [to] illustrate and further quantify the value of pharmacy care," Merlo said. "We should be pleased and proud with what the research is showing — with scientific rigor. The conclusions have been clear: Increasing efforts to promote pharmacy care can save the healthcare system significant dollars while improving health outcomes. ... [Research shows] the evolution of the pharmacist from not just a dispenser of products, but to a provider of services."

Merlo cited such victories for pharmacy as:

  • The expansion of medication therapy management services;

  • Fostering viable pharmacy reimbursement in federal and state government programs;

  • Shaping drug disposal policy, preventing co-pay increase in the military's Tricare program; and

  • Allowing e-prescribing for controlled substances.

Building on Merlo's remarks, NACDS president and CEO Steve Anderson said that while pharmacy has achieved several victories this year, one cause that needs to be built on is the defeat of massive Medicaid pharmacy cuts under the average manufacturer price model. AMP, Anderson noted at the conference, still remains a challenge for pharmacy.

“From this broader perspective, AMP remains before us. In fact, at the federal and state levels, we need to ‘Re-AMP.’ ... We need to maintain our forward position and our fire in the belly," Anderson said at the conference. "We need to fight for victory because defeats are unacceptable for pharmacy viability and for patient care. While ultimate victory for pharmacy cannot yet be claimed, we are seeing the power of our progress and the interim victories that we have earned together. Our position is stronger than ever before and so is our platform for future transformation. That is good because tremendous challenges remain — but none that we cannot confront together.”

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