PHARMACY

NACDS responds to reimportation legislation

BY Antoinette Alexander

ALEXANDRI, Va. — In a letter penned Thursday by the National Association of Chain Drug Stores to Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, the association stated that while it shares the goal of reducing prescription drug costs, authorizing the reimportation of prescription medications — as sought in S.319, the Pharmaceutical Market Access and Drug Safety Act of 2011 — raises concerns about patient health and safety.

The bill seeks to authorize the reimportation of prescription medications and permits the implementation of a track-and-trace system for prescription drugs. The letter expressed pharmacy’s commitment to improving patient health and lowering costs in a manner that protects patient health and safety, maintains a safe and secure drug distribution system and supply chain, and fosters communication between patients and pharmacists.

In addition to expressing concerns about patient health and safety, NACDS also highlighted issues surrounding the development of prescription drug track-and-trace system. "It is important to consider the complexities, technical and feasibility issues, and formidable costs for all drug supply chain stakeholders if such [track-and-trace] systems were mandated. These systems have not undergone pilot programs to test their reliability, scalability and address implementation and operational concerns," the letter read.

While expressing concerns with the legislation, NACDS emphasized common ground: the shared goal of improving patient health and reducing costs.

NACDS encouraged Congress to enact legislation that would advance pharmacist-provided medication therapy management services and increase generic utilization. "Instead of pursuing importation as a way to reduce drug expenditures, we urge the consideration of policies to support cost-saving alternatives, such as greater adoption of medication therapy management and increased generic utilization," the letter read.

Two such bills that seek to encourage greater adoption of pharmacist-provided MTM services are S. 274 and H.R. 891, which would expand MTM services to more Medicare beneficiaries.

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PHARMACY

NACDS, NCPA express support of new MTM bill

BY Antoinette Alexander

ALEXANDRIA, Va. — The National Association of Chain Drug Stores and the National Community Pharmacists Association have expressed their support for H.R. 891, the Medication Therapy Management Benefits Act of 2011, as it would expand the pool of Medicare Part D beneficiaries who can qualify for the service provided by a licensed pharmacist to any patient with a chronic medical condition. Currently, only those patients suffering from multiple chronic conditions are eligible.

Reps. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash., and Mike Ross, D-Ark., introduced the bill.

"Representatives McMorris Rodgers and Ross understand the importance of pharmacists and the positive impact of MTM services for Medicare Part D beneficiaries," stated NACDS president and CEO Steve Anderson and NCPA EVP and CEO Kathleen Jaeger. "Their bipartisan MTM bill is the next logical step in building on what has been proven to work by lowering the threshold for eligibility to receive MTM services."

Anderson and Jaeger added, "MTM allows clinically trained pharmacists to use their expertise in a carefully conducted one-on-one counseling session to help ensure the best combinations of medications are being taken in the proper way. Considering that, according to the New England Health Institute, the improper use of medication is estimated to cost a staggering $290 billion a year, a service like MTM should be embraced. We hope the House of Representatives acts quickly on the bipartisan bill. We also urge Senate passage of the MTM bill that was recently introduced by Sen. Kay Hagan, D-N.C."

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PCMA leader honored by GPhA

BY Alaric DeArment

WASHINGTON — The head of a group representing the nation’s pharmacy benefit managers got honors from the Generic Pharmaceutical Association.

The Pharmaceutical Care Management Association announced Thursday that president and CEO Mark Merritt had received the GPhA’s Outstanding Contribution Award at the generic drug industry group’s annual meeting in Orlando, Fla. The organization has advocated increased generic drug utilization and found common cause with the generics industry in its support for follow-on biologics.

“I’m honored to receive this award and proud to stand with GPhA, employers and consumer groups in the fight for affordable prescription drugs,” Merritt said.

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