NCPA members convene for 46th Annual NCPA Conference on National Legislation and Government Affairs
WASHINGTON — The 46th Annual NCPA Conference on National Legislation and Government Affairs kicked off Wednesday on Capitol Hill, bringing together hundreds of members of the National Community Pharmacists Association to discuss critical community pharmacy issues with members of the Senate and House of Representatives, as well as government officials and political insiders.
This year’s two-day event attracted about 400 members. The attendance is the highest it has been in the past three years, and is a reflection of the pressing issues facing independent community pharmacies.
In a conference call Wednesday morning with media, B. Douglas Hoey, CEO of the NCPA, outlined the four key issues its members will be discussing during the event.
One of the biggest concerns, and a top priority for NCPA, is the limitation that independent community pharmacies have to be at the table in Medicare Part D’s preferred networks.
“Our members are disproportionately in rural and underserved areas, and they serve as sort of the canary in the coal mine when it comes to some of the policy changes with Part D and, as such, they are under a lot of pressure and stress by not being allowed to be included in these networks,” Hoey said.
Hoey added that NCPA is endorsing the Ensuring Seniors Access to Local Pharmacies Act (H.R. 4577) and said the bipartisan legislation is a critical first step toward more patient choice and allowing competition. The bill would allow “any willing pharmacy” in medically underserved areas to participate in the Medicare Part D drug plan networks, including the plan’s discounted or preferred networks.
A second priority is price discrepancies among PBMs, and Hoey said that NCPA is supporting legislation (H.R. 4437) that would require PBMs to update their generic drug reimbursements on a timely basis to reflect real-world costs.
“Prices are going up for generic products, but the payment rates are staying the same, and it is as simple as that. … So, our members are being put in a situation where they are having to dispense products sometimes for hundreds of dollars below their actual cost of the product,” Hoey said.
A third area of focus during the conference is expanded scope of services provided by pharmacists.
“Many community pharmacists have the training and expertise to play a larger role in providing basic health services. We’ve seen increased utilization of health services in the first quarter of this year, and we are also seeing a shortage of primary care practitioners. Pharmacists can help assist with this shortage,” Hoey said. He noted that pharmacists can help fill the gap by providing such care as wellness screenings, chronic disease management, immunizations and proper medication management.
In light of this, NCPA is supporting and working to advance legislation (H.R. 4490) to recognize and reimburse pharmacists for providing such care, Hoey said.
Members also will be discussing the difficulty that community pharmacies are experiencing when it comes to obtaining controlled substances for patients with legitimate health needs.
“It is becoming clear that too many patients are becoming collateral damage in the war against prescription drug abuse. We will continue to support what we believe are more balanced strategies, such as prescriber education and the development of prescription drug monitoring programs,” Hoey said during the call.
Weis Markets reports Q1 sales of $687.1 million
SUNBURY, Pa. — Weis Markets on Wednesday reported $687.1 million in sales, up 0.6%, for the 13 weeks ended March 29. Comparable store sales were down 1.3% compared to the same period a year ago.
The company’s results were impacted by timing of the Easter holiday, which was observed in the first quarter of 2013 and the second quarter of 2014.
"We have met our first quarter sales goals. Adjusted for the Easter holiday shift, our sales increased 1.7% despite price reductions on thousands of items," said Jonathan Weis, president and CEO of Weis Markets. "We achieved our sales goal by reinvesting in sales through our Three More Ways to Save program, which has generated higher per customer sales and an increase in center store unit sales. These reinvestments are a key part of our long-term strategy to generate increased sales and market share."
During the period, Weis generated earnings per share of $0.55 compared to $0.75 per share in 2013. The company’s first quarter net income totaled $14.8 million compared to $20.1 million in 2013, down 26.6%.
Syndicated data provider Symphony Health Solutions to offer weekly views of prescription activity
HORSHAM, Pa. — Symphony Health Solutions last week announced it now offers weekly views of pharmaceutical sales and prescription activity. The company launched PHAST 2.0 Institutional Weekly and PHAST 2.0 Integrated Weekly, weekly audits of U.S. institutional sales and overall market activity.
“These new weekly audits allow us to provide the most comprehensive and timely coverage of both retail prescription activity and non-retail sales,” said Don Otterbein, SVP product management and marketing, Symphony Health Solutions. “Given the rate and pace of change in the healthcare and life sciences markets, it is increasingly important for our clients to have timely and actionable market intelligence to compete effectively.”
Previously available only on a monthly basis, the two new audits give customers more timely access to institutional and prescription market data. Pharmaceutical manufacturers and financial analysts can use the data to monitor drug launches and the activity of competitive drugs in the marketplace. In addition, the integrated audit has been enhanced with additional data on specialty drugs in a number of areas including oncology, rheumatoid arthritis and HIV.
PHAST 2.0 Integrated Weekly gives a combined view of retail pharmacy activity together with non-retail institutional sales to provide a comprehensive view of the market, SHS reported. PHAST 2.0 Institutional Weekly offers a view of pharmaceutical product sales to institutions, such as hospitals, clinics and long-term care facilities.