ALEXANDRIA, Va. — The National Association of Chain Drug Stores announced on Thursday that it issued a letter calling on the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction to urge collaboration with community pharmacy in developing solutions to curb healthcare costs, while at the same time maintaining patient access to prescription medications and pharmacy services.
Highlighting the accessibility of local pharmacists, the letter urged improved medication adherence as key to improved health and reduced costs.
“We strongly believe any deficit reduction plan must include policies to improve medication adherence," the letter stated. "There is no silver bullet solution to end the problem of poor medication adherence. Only by addressing the problem comprehensively, and engaging pharmacists, physicians and other health care providers as true partners in helping patients to take medications as prescribed, will we be successful in reducing hospital readmissions, doctor and emergency room visits, and other higher cost healthcare interventions that are the inevitable result of poor medication adherence.”
The letter emphasized the importance of maintaining patient choice of where to receive prescription drugs and other pharmacy services.
“Maintaining patient choice of where to receive prescription drugs and pharmacy services is critical to improving medication adherence. Community pharmacists are the most effective at teaching patients to take their medications as prescribed. In fact, studies have shown that community pharmacists in the face-to-face setting are twice as effective as pharmacists speaking to patients over the telephone at improving adherence,” the letter stated.
In the letter, NACDS also cautioned the committee about the manner in which prescription drug costs are evaluated.
“While reducing healthcare costs is essential, it is not possible or advisable to consider spending on prescription drugs in a vacuum, separate from the substantial cost avoidance that they make possible. Furthermore, community pharmacy's role in maximizing the effectiveness of prescription drugs makes community pharmacy's value unsurpassed within healthcare delivery,” the letter stated.
NACDS also urged the committee to consider opportunities to further reduce costs and achieve improved health, such as increased utilization of generic drugs, utilizing Medicare Part D for immunization coverage, moving coverage of diabetes testing supplies from Medicare Part B to Medicare Part D, spurring competition of biopharmaceuticals and maintaining patient access to healthcare services.