PHARMACY

Q&A: Women in pharmacy lead through practice

BY DSN STAFF

Oct. 12 is National Women Pharmacists Day. Drug Store News conducted a Q&A with industry professionals and an aspiring pharmacist to gather their perspectives on the industry and challenges and opportunities for pharmacy ownership.

Drug Store News: Can you describe the state of the pharmacy profession for women? Are you optimistic about the future?
Jennifer ZilkaJennifer Zilka, group vice president of Good Neighbor Pharmacy’s Field Programs and Services: Over the last decade, we have seen a significant increase in the number of women in pharmacy. Today, more than half of the pharmacy students today are women. At Good Neighbor Pharmacy, we’re optimistic about the overall state of the profession, including the growing number of female pharmacists joining the workforce. We are committed to providing female pharmacists with the critical support and resources needed to help them continue to grow and seize the opportunities available today. For example, we are currently building a mentorship program to connect our customers with the next generation of pharmacists and pharmacy owners. We want to help pharmacists connect and share information and experiences. We also want to create a forum where women can seek advice, learn from one another and find ownership opportunities.

DSN: What’s exciting to you about being a pharmacy owner right now?
Melynda Munden, owner of Hemmingsen Drug Store in Marshall, Mich.: I’m excited about the opportunities that exist for female pharmacy owners today. Community pharmacies serve as a retail and healthcare destination because of the experiences and personalized care they provide to patients across the country. We can really make an impact in the communities we support. For example, my store is part of a program that aims to help patients who have been recently discharged from our local hospital. Through the program, we partner with the hospital and a social work agency to provide specialized coaching and support around their medication so the patients can avoid medicine-related errors that could send them back to the hospital or complicate their medical conditions. This program is a testament to the exciting things we’re doing now in pharmacy. We’re part of the care team, not just filling scripts.

DSN: What is one of the biggest challenges facing female pharmacy owners?
Deirdre Myers, pharmacy instructor at Ohio Northern University: Given the amount of responsibility associated with operating a business, pharmacy owners may face challenges with work-life balance. However, one of the best ways to solve this challenge is through collaboration. Having a support system to be able to co-manage different aspects of life can make it easier for a pharmacy owner to balance between their priorities and ensure nothing is forgotten. I’d encourage every pharmacy owner to find ways to explore co-ownership and co-parenting to maintain the right level of work-life balance.

DSN: How can the pharmacy industry support aspiring female pharmacists who are interested in pharmacy ownership?
Jessica Satterfield, Pharmacy Student at the University of Iowa: I’m incredibly optimistic about a future in pharmacy ownership but I know other students don’t always have a clear path to pursue a similar role. The field can support aspiring female owners by increasing exposure to other female pharmacy owners and the opportunities available through pharmacy ownership. Mentorship programs are an excellent opportunity to learn how to open and operate a business, including learning how to manage financials, develop employees and drive profitability – all while operating at the top of your license.

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PHARMACY

IPC members to get Pharma Logistics’ reverse distribution services

BY Sandra Levy

Independent Pharmacy Cooperative members are gaining access to reverse pharmaceutical distribution services through a recently announced partnership between IPC and Pharma Logistics.

Pharma Logistics’ programs and services focus on profit, compliance, and convenience and provide insight and analytics on the pharmaceutical returns process.

IPC, which has locations in Sun Prairie, Wis. and Phoenix, Ariz. represents over 5,500 pharmacy members, offering daily ordering of pharmaceuticals at competitive pricing.

The partnership gives IPC members access to Pharma Logistics’ services, including Box and Ship, Onsite, Quick Credit, and Drug Take-Back programs.

With Pharma Logistics onsite service its local service representatives come onsite to collect returns, complete required paperwork, and pack up returns shipment for pick up by the carrier.

Through Pharma Logistics’ Box and Ship service IPC members have the flexibility to pack and ship their own pharmaceutical returns and ship them back to Pharma Logistics, who provides the boxes and prepaid labels in advance.

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Trump signs industry-backed legislation ending ‘gag clauses’

BY Sandra Levy

President Trump today signed the Patient Right to Know Prices Act (S. 2554) and the Know the Lowest Price Act (S. 2553) at a ceremony today at the White House.

Among those in attendance at the bill signing ceremony were National Association of Chain Drug  Stores president and CEO Steve Anderson; NACDS vice chairman and executive vice president of Wakefern Food/ShopRite, Chris Lane; and NCPA CEO B. Douglas Hoey.

The bills will help patients save money on prescription drugs by ending so-called “gag clauses” that prevent pharmacists from telling patients about instances in which they could save money by paying cash out-of-pocket instead of using their insurance benefit. S. 2553 pertains to Medicare Part D and Medicare Advantage, and S. 2554 pertains to private plans.

In addition, S. 2554 includes a separate NACDS-backed provision that requires the Federal Trade Commission and the Department of Justice to be notified of any biosimilars patent settlements, as a way to prevent such agreements from delaying patients’ access to lower-cost drugs.

“NACDS applauds the focus and the determination that the Trump Administration is bringing to the work of reducing patients’ out-of-pocket drug costs, and we appreciate the diligence of these bills’ Congressional sponsors in leading this legislation all the way to the President’s desk,” Anderson said.

Prior to signing the bills President Trump said, “I’m thrilled to sign two bills that will lower the cost of prescription drugs. Earlier this year I released our drug pricing Blueprint, setting out a new agenda to drive down drug prices. Within a week of releasing the Blueprint, my administration started to crack down on so-called ‘gag clauses’ in Medicare Part D plans. These clauses prevent pharmacists from telling patients about more affordable options for prescription drugs.”

At the ceremony, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar extended President Trump’s gratitude to the members of Congress and the Senate for passing “these two very important pieces of legislation that end pharmacy gag practices, which prevent a patient from knowing they can pay less for drugs. Now you can ask your pharmacist, can I pay less for this medicine than what my insurance is going to pay? That is an important right and it shows that with drug pricing we can work in a bipartisan way because we have to get drug prices down.”

Azar continued, “Thanks to the President’s leadership we have already taken major action since the President rolled out his Blueprint. We’re creating a pathway for importation of drugs to relieve exorbitant price increases of generic drugs and other branded drugs in the U.S. that are off patent. He’s also brought increased competition to generic approvals at historic levels and ended gaming by branded companies to prevent the entrance of new generic drugs. This is just the tip of the iceberg. In the weeks and months ahead we have so much more coming from the regulatory aspect to break down the price of drugs in this country.”

“NACDS has engaged strongly in the current focus on bringing about policies that enhance the affordability of prescription drugs, which studies have shown is a key factor in whether patients will take their medications as prescribed and thus play a critical role in their own health and wellness. Current efforts build on pharmacy’s role as a long-standing and trusted partner for patients and for government leaders seeking workable solutions,” NACDS said.

A January 2018 national survey conducted by Morning Consult and commissioned by NACDS found that eight-in-ten respondents said pharmacists are credible sources of information about how to save money on prescription drugs. “That is the highest rating of all healthcare professionals tested. This new law will provide pharmacists with another opportunity to help patients enhance the affordability, and thus the effectiveness, of their medication therapy – and we look forward to the continued dialogue and work with the Trump Administration and with Congress,” NACDS said.

Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine is the lead sponsor of S. 2554 and an original co-sponsor of S. 2553. Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D, Mich. is the lead sponsor of S. 2553 and an original co-sponsor of S. 2554. Serving as original co-sponsors of both bills are: Sens. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., Bill Cassidy, R-La., and Claire McCaskill, D- Mo. In addition, Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore. is an original cosponsor of S. 2553.

In the U.S. House of Representatives, Rep. Buddy Carter, R-Ga. introduced the Know the Cost Act (H.R. 6733), which applies to both Medicare and private insurance. The U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Energy and Commerce passed that legislation on September 13. The House ultimately passed the Senate legislation on September 25 to fulfill the requirement that both chambers must pass a bill in identical form for it to be signed into law by the President.

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