PHARMACY

NACDS president praises U.S. Chamber of Commerce letters to Congress on CMS drug reimbursement rule

BY Adam Kraemer

ALEXANDRIA, Va. National Association of Chain Drug Stores president and chief executive officer Steve Anderson hailed legislation endorsement letters from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce as an indication that the damaging Medicaid prescription drug reimbursement rule is a top-tier issue that requires a Congressional response.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is the world’s largest business federation representing more than three million businesses and organizations of every size, sector and region.

R. Bruce Josten, executive vice president, government affairs of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, sent letters on August 17 to Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, D-Mont., Rep. Nancy Boyda, D-Kan., and Rep. Jo Ann Emerson, R-Mont., to support their legislation in the Senate and House of Representatives, S. 1951 and H.R. 3140, respectively. Both bills would provide a legislative solution to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services rule related to the Deficit Reduction Act. NACDS also has endorsed both bills.

“In the end, Congressional action is absolutely necessary to make possible the current level of vital pharmacy services available in low-income communities, including rural and inner-city areas,” Anderson said back in July. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s letters describe the need for Congressional action to assure access to affordable prescription drugs, to help contain health care costs and to sustain the value of community pharmacy. The letters cite a Government Accountability Office report that shows the reimbursement formula will not cover community pharmacies’ costs for many drugs.

“If affordable medications are not accessible to Medicaid beneficiaries, decreased wellness could lead to devastating cost increases for beneficiaries, the Medicaid program and other payers,” Josten wrote. Anderson, who also is a member of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors, lauded the letters of support, saying, “When Congress returns to session, it will focus on priority issues that demand action. This is a breakthrough moment that adds a major voice on a major issue. The statement is clear that fixing the CMS Medicaid rule merits action now for the good of patients, for the good of health care and for the good of community pharmacy.”

NACDS also continues to work with other allied organizations, including the National Community Pharmacists Association and the Food Marketing Institute, to fulfill its pledge for an “all-branches, all-level government strategy” to fight for a remedy to the rule.

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PHARMACY

September is officially National Ovarian Cancer Month

BY Adam Kraemer

MONTEBELLO, Quebec President George W. Bush announced Monday that September 2007 will officially be recognized as National Ovarian Cancer Month.

“In FY 2007, the National Institutes of Health will invest an estimated $102 million into ovarian cancer research through the National Cancer Institute and other institutes,” the President stated. “In addition, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will dedicate nearly $5 million. We will continue to commit our resources to seek better ways to prevent, detect and ultimately cure ovarian cancer.”

“During National Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month, Americans remember those who have lost their lives to ovarian cancer, and we honor the courage and strength of those who continue to fight this disease,” he continued. “We also recognize the dedicated medical professionals and researchers whose tireless efforts help provide a brighter, healthier future for women.”

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Support for doctor-filled scripts: a warning sign for retail pharmacy?

BY Jim Frederick

ST. LOUIS In what could be either a worrisome sign of an increasingly fickle pharmacy consumer or a tempest in a teapot, researchers acting at the behest of a company that caters to physicians have found what they describe as widespread support for the idea of doctor-dispensed prescriptions.

Three out of four Americans in a nationwide poll appeared to support the concept of having their prescriptions filled by their doctors at the point of care, according to Purkinje, a health care technology and services company that partners with physicians. The poll, conducted by Opinion Research, found that a majority of consumers appear willing to try doctor-dispensed prescriptions rather than going to their neighborhood pharmacies.

The biggest factor is convenience, according to pollsters. “Overall preference for office-based medication dispensing appears to be driven by the prospect of saving time and improving quality of care,” noted a report on the study.

An overwhelming majority of respondents, 84 percent, said such a service would be more convenient, and 62 percent said it would help them better manage their health, according to researchers.

According to Purkinje, the findings suggest that “physicians are missing an opportunity to improve patient satisfaction and enhance revenue by not dispensing medicine in their office.” But the study’s results are troublesome for chain and independent pharmacies, which are already under assault from mail-order pharmacy, mandatory mail-order prescription plans and Medicaid reimbursement cuts, among other threats.

For pharmacy leaders, however, the findings might come with a few grains of salt. Purkinje describes itself as a specialist in providing physicians with computer-driven solutions to “save time, maximize income and provide optimal care for their patients.” Its products include software for practice management, electronic health records, billing and what it calls “medication fulfillment.”

Reacting to the report, Mary Ann Wagner, senior vice president of policy and regulatory affairs for the National Association of Chain Drug Stores, cited the drawbacks for any patient who cuts pharmacists out of the health care equation.

“Pharmacists not only dispense medications,” Wagner told Drug Store News. “They play a critical role in their patients’ health by monitoring potential drug interactions and allergies. If a patient is being treated by more than one health care provider, it would be more difficult to detect harmful drug interactions if the patient is receiving multiple medications from different doctors or pharmacies.”

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