NACDS, GPhA respond with guarded optimism to State of the Union address

ARLINGTON and ALEXANDRIA, Va. Two pharmaceutical trade associations responded positively Tuesday to Monday’s State of the Union address by President George W. Bush.

“President Bush offered a forward-thinking policy agenda in his last State of the Union address last night before Congress,” stated Steve Anderson, president and chief executive officer of the National Association of Chain Drug Stores. “We applaud the president’s commitments to expanding access to affordable healthcare options and empowering Americans to receive treatment that best meets their needs.”

Kathleen Jaeger, president and chief executive officer of the Generic Pharmaceutical Association, also praised the president’s vision. “Last night, President Bush stated that ‘we share a common goal: making health care more affordable and accessible for all Americans,’ ” she stated. “The American generic pharmaceutical industry couldn’t agree more.”

Both associations were hopeful, calling on the administration and Congress to recognize the needs of Americans and utilize the services their respective members can offer.

“As our nation grapples with the challenge of reducing skyrocketing health care costs while increasing access to quality care, generic medicines remain the right choice for better health. Generic medicines save consumers and the federal government billions of dollars a year,” Jaeger continued. ““We call upon President Bush and Congress to support measures that increase access to generic medicines. This year, our elected officials have a real opportunity … by enacting legislation to create an effective and efficient approval pathway for biogenerics; approving free trade agreements … that foster the balance between pharmaceutical innovation and generic access; and removing longstanding barriers to access such as authorized generics and citizen petitions.”

“We appreciate the president’s continued efforts to make health care accessible and affordable for patients and businesses,” Anderson stated. “He also acknowledged the importance of promoting health information technology. NACDS and the National Community Pharmacists Association created SureScripts electronic prescribing network in 2001 which is now the largest network to link electronic communications between pharmacies and physicians, enabling the direct exchange of prescription information.”

Anderson tempered his comments with a word of caution, however: “Pharmacy faces challenges with pending Medicaid reimbursement cuts that will alter services that chain pharmacies provide and in some cases, shut their doors. While we are hopeful that the budget will take our concerns into consideration, if past is prologue, we could see even drastic cuts this year that could further impede the industry.”

“The value of pharmacy will only continue to grow in what is becoming an era of patient-centered health care,” he concluded optimistically. “We are hopeful that the administration and Congress will take the concerns of pharmacy into consideration as they work to institute health care policies.”

Jaeger’s statement, too, looked to the future. “In 2008, the economy and health care are top priorities for Americans. We can make the state of our union strong by increasing access to safe, effective and affordable generic medicines,” she stated.

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