PHARMACY

Guest blog: More members of Congress pressure Medicare on DIR fees

BY Michael Rule

In June, due to NCPA advocacy efforts and widespread grassroots activity from independent pharmacists, 30 members of the House of Representatives wrote to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) urging the agency to finalize its guidance on DIR fees. NCPA members and staff continued advocacy efforts, and as a result, three more members of Congress have contacted CMS to voice support for their DIR proposal.

Congressman Ralph Abraham (R-La.) highlighted the lag time in assessing fees and the importance of CMS finalizing its guidance, writing in part, "Through discussions with multiple independent pharmacies in Louisiana's Fifth Congressional District, I learned of situations in which pharmacies have been waiting for as long as five months to find out the dollar amount in DIR fees that PBMs are taking from them. This is no way for an industry to run. CMS finalizing guidance on their DIR rules would be a positive step toward consistent and fair reporting."

In a separate letter, Congressmen William Keating (D-Mass.) and Seth Moulton (D-Mass.) reiterated the support of their colleagues for CMS' proposal, noting "As Congressmen Scott, Loebsack, Welch, and Carter noted in their letter to you dated June 14, 2016, and as many other Members of Congress concurred, your agency's proposed guidance should be successful because: (1) it prevents PBMs and plan sponsors from manipulating drug prices by withholding market information; and (2) it ensures that Medicare beneficiaries have access to the most accurate data available as they assess the costs of their prescriptions."

These letters are further evidence of growing momentum in Congress for addressing DIR fees, however, it's vital to continue to communicate with elected officials on the impact DIRs have on local small business pharmacies. A recent post on NCPA's The Dose entitled "Turn Up the Heat on Congress this Summer" highlighted a toolkit of resources available to independent pharmacists to help make their voice heard, and the NCPA Legislative Action Center can be utilized to send messages to your legislators urging action on DIRs. Continuing to engage legislators with a coordinated and unified voice and raising awareness of the local impact of DIRs will help sustain the momentum.


Michael Rule is the National Community Pharmacy Association’s associate director of public affairs and grassroots. 

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Benzer Pharmacy joins American Pharmacy Purchasing Alliance

BY David Salazar
TAMPA, Fla. — Benzer Pharmacy announced Friday that it had joined the American Pharmacy Purchasing Alliance (APPA), a community of pharmaceutical experts and professionals working to advance the pharmaceutical purchasing industry. Now all of the more than 60 Benzer Pharmacy locations are members of the alliance. 
 
“We are excited to announce that all Benzer Pharmacies will be joining this alliance that offers industry-trusted education and information and acts as a trusted voice for the national pharmaceutical purchasing industry,” Benzer Pharmacy president Alpesh Patel said. 
 
APPA works to develop networking strategies and opportunities while developing new technologies and strategies to improve productivity. 
 
“Our goal is to keep members abreast of the latest developments and news in the pharmaceutical industry as well as offering educational opportunities for professional growth and empowerment.” APPA president Joshua Pirestani said. “APPA focuses on gathering different entities and sources of information that will become beneficial to the industry as well as to the parties concerned.”
 
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CVS Pharmacy locations now offering non-prescription naloxone in Idaho

BY Michael Johnsen

WOONSOCKET, R.I. – CVS Health announced Friday that the opioid overdose-reversal medication naloxone is now available without a prescription at CVS Pharmacy locations in Idaho. Under prescriptive authority allowed by the state, CVS Pharmacists will expand access to the medication.  

"Naloxone is a safe and effective antidote to opioid overdoses and we can help save lives by increasing access to this medication in our Idaho pharmacies by the use of prescriptive authority for patients without a prescription," stated Tom Davis,VP pharmacy professional practices at CVS Pharmacy. "We are dedicated to helping the communities we serve address and prevent drug abuse and we are expanding access to naloxone to give more people a chance to get the help they need for recovery."

In addition to Idaho, CVS Pharmacy locations in 30 other states can dispense naloxone to patients without an individual prescription.

"CVS Health has been a leader in helping communities prevent prescription drug abuse and we applaud their work to increase access to this life-saving drug for patients without a prescription at CVS Pharmacy locations in Idaho," said Marcia Lee Taylor, president and CEO, Partnership for Drug-Free Kids. "Increasing access to naloxone is a critical public health priority that allows patients and their families to prevent opioid fatalities and recognize when people need help working towards recovery from the disease of addiction."
 

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