NACDS’ Jaeger: Community pharmacy key in emergency preparedness
Kathleen Jaeger, the National Assocation of Chain Drug Stores’ SVP pharmacy care and patient advocacy, has weighed in on the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America’s online conversation about preparedness month, which also features entries from organizations like the Red Cross and Healtcare Ready. Read Jaeger’s contribution about the current state of community pharmacy in emergency preparedness and the growth that it can still achieve below and click here to read all of the PhRMA conversation contributions.
Regardless of the threat, the healthcare system’s preparedness and response capacity is critical to protecting the American public. We have learned from previous events and threats that effective response begins with sound planning that encourages coordination among public and private sector entities to rapidly and effectively respond to a crisis. To this end, NACDS supports Healthcare Ready’s mission to build and enhance the resiliency of communities before, during and after public health emergencies. As a convener of industry and government, the organization leverages lessons learned over the past decade to rebuild a more dynamic disaster planning process and safeguard patient health by offering solutions to critical problems.
For our part, community pharmacies are a valuable emergency response resource for reaching the public with essential medications and vaccines. Pharmacists are uniquely positioned to reach broad segments of a community, especially since ninety-three percent of Americans live within five miles of a community pharmacy. As we have witnessed from forest fires to hurricanes to broad pandemics, pharmacies play an essential role as a trusted access point for care and are committed to working with Healthcare Ready to build a stronger health care preparedness system.
During the 2009 H1N1 influenza pandemic, pharmacists improved the capacity and reach of the public health system by administering more than five million doses of H1N1 vaccine in a matter of weeks. The partnership between pharmacy and the public health community that formed during this outbreak provided a foundation to strengthen and expand connections between public health entities and community pharmacies, and recognize the extensive reach and capacity of pharmacies as a vital component of emergency response.
In the six years since the outbreak, the public health community has embraced pharmacies as a trusted, go-to partner for disaster preparedness. This in turn means that pharmacies and the public health community work collaboratively to plan for upcoming disasters rather than calling on one another “just-in-time” as the disaster is unfolding. An article written by public health experts that appeared in the Biosecurity and Bioterrorism journal stated: “With the expanded role of community pharmacists in public health during the past decade, their participation in response to emergencies has become increasingly important.”
This new relationship among the public health community and pharmacies has taken many forms—one of which is through the collaborative development of a model Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for coordinating pandemic vaccination preparedness activities between public health programs and pharmacies, which is led by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials. Successful strategies, tactics, and operational components, identified through stakeholder interviews and workshops, were incorporated into a draft model MOU to formalize responsibilities between state-level public health programs and community pharmacies in pandemic vaccination planning and response. The next phase of the project is working with the state public health programs and pharmacies to address program needs for implementing this model MOU.
While great progress has been made, more needs to be done to remove needless legal and regulatory barriers that hamper disaster response efforts. Community pharmacy looks forward to working with Healthcare Ready and the public sector to build a stronger preparedness healthcare infrastructure by leveraging community pharmacies as a resource and removing harmful restrictions to access to care, in times of disasters and everyday, to promote better health outcomes.
GPhA’s Davis comments on Trans-Pacific Partnership talks
WASHINGTON — Last weeek, Generic Pharmaceutical Association (GPhA) president and CEO Chip Davis issued a statement regarding negotiations over the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which was finalized this morning and now heads to Congress for approval. According to Davis, it is important that the TPP encourage competition that can drive health care costs down, especially in the case of generic drugs and biosimilars.
“Competition in the biologics marketplace through the creation of a pathway that ensures access to safe, effective and affordable biosimilars will reduce health costs for patients, governments and the entire healthy system,” Davis said. “GPhA shares the health cost concerns of the current administration and strongly agrees in principle with proposed exclusivity reductions — extending monopolies on biologic medicines is simply not sustainable.”
He added that the organization “urges [the United States Trade Representative] to adhere to the letter and spirit of the May 10th agreement’s provisions regarding exclusivity for biologic medicines. Embracing the precedent set by the May 10th agreement allows the United States to remain globally competitive while establishing balanced intellectual property provisions among trading partners. It is also critical that this agreement avoids locking the United States in a policy position that limits Congress from modifying U.S. pharmaceutical law in the future.”
Davis concluded by noting that “‘pharmacovigilance exclusivity,’ is not an appropriate justification for extending brand biologic exclusivity. Pharmacovigilance obligations are a mandate of regulatory authorities for biologics and biosimilars. Such regulatory requirements do not need to be addressed in trade negotiations, and should not be used as rationale for seeking any additional exclusivity.GPhA welcomes the opportunity to work with USTR and others to take steps that ensure the United States is well positioned to be competitive in the burgeoning biosimilars market.”