ALEXANDRIA, Va. Two independent community pharmacy advocates are urging Congress to consider more practical alternatives to legislation that would effectively mandate the purchase of expensive, unproven equipment intended to reduce the amount of wasted medication in long-term care settings.
The National Community Pharmacists Association and GeriMed, of Louisville, Ky., representing independent long-term care pharmacies, wrote a letter to Senate Finance Committee chairman Max Baucus, D-Mont., and House Energy and Commerce Committee chairman Henry Waxman, D-Calif., regarding provisions in both the House and Senate-passed versions of healthcare reform. Under the current proposed language, pharmacies participating in the Medicare Part D drug benefit and serving long-term care facilities would have to utilize specific dispensing techniques, such as weekly, daily, or automated dose dispensing. For most independent pharmacies, that would require the purchase of a costly technology system along with major changes to the work flow of the pharmacy, the organizations said in a release.
“Reducing waste and promoting appropriate disposal of unused medications is very important,” the groups wrote. “However, small pharmacies may have more difficulty accessing or paying for this new technology, which has not yet been incorporated into the daily practices of independent pharmacies.”
Further, NCPA and GeriMed note that the new technology “has not even been thoroughly pilot-tested to see if it decreases waste of medications.”
To meet Congress’ goal of reducing the volume of unused medicine, while avoiding the problems noted above, NCPA and GeriMed offered lawmakers several options: