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NACDS urges ‘commonsense’ approaches to Medicare reform in statement to lawmakers

BY Antoinette Alexander

ARLINGTON, Va. — The National Association of Chain Drug Stores is urging lawmakers to examine “commonsense, pro-patient, pro-pharmacy reforms” in an effort to modernize the Medicare program for beneficiaries.

In a statement NACDS sent to the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Ways and Means Subcommittee on Health, the Association is urging “commonsense” approaches to Medicare reform and emphasizing community pharmacy’s role in improving heath and controlling costs.

NACDS submitted the comments in response to a request from the committee for stakeholder reactions on bipartisan proposals on entitlement reform.  
Citing medication therapy management, expanded coverage of vaccines in Part D and increasing utilization of generic drugs, NACDS provided specific examples of preventive approaches to improved patient health and cost-savings within the Medicare program.

“Through personal interactions with patients, face-to-face consultations and convenient access to preventive care services, local pharmacists are helping to shape the healthcare delivery system of tomorrow — in partnership with doctors, nurses and others,” NACDS said in its statement. “Pharmacists also provide vital patient care through services, such as medication therapy management (MTM) and their expanded role in providing immunizations.”

Reports by the Congressional Budget Office and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, as well as a recent article in Health Affairs found that appropriate medication use can in fact improve health while lowering costs, NACDS stated. These findings have helped increase recognition by lawmakers on the value of MTM, including bipartisan support for U.S. House and U.S. Senate bills, the Medication Therapy Management Empowerment Act of 2013 (H.R. 1024 and S. 557, respectively). The House bill currently has 127 co-sponsors and the Senate bill has 23 co-sponsors.

In addition, encouraging Medicare patients and others to obtain vaccinations at their neighborhood pharmacy is a cost-effective and convenient way to help prevent illness and reduce healthcare costs. The Department of Defense cites cost savings of nearly $1.5 million by expanding the portfolio of vaccines that Tricare patients may obtain from community pharmacies. Currently all 50 states allow pharmacists to provide certain immunizations, and NACDS continues to work to expand vaccination opportunities for pharmacists.

In its statement, NACDS also emphasized the benefits of increased utilization of generic drugs and the ability for Medicare patients to choose where they wish to obtain their medications and pharmacy services.

“Pharmacists have long promoted generic drugs as safe, cost-effective alternatives for many patients. Community pharmacy has a higher rate of generic dispensing — 73% — than any other practice setting,” NACDS said in its statement.

NACDS estimates that in the Medicaid program, for every 1% increase in generic utilization, approximately $809 million in federal and state dollars would be saved.

“Substituting generic pharmaceuticals for their brand-name equivalents is an effective way to achieve significant savings in public and private healthcare programs,” NACDS said in its statement.

“NACDS and the chain pharmacy industry are committed to partnering with Congress, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, patients and other healthcare providers to improve quality and affordability of the Medicare program,” NACDS said in its statement.
 

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Study finds NJoy e-cigarette use can help short-term smoking reduction and cessation potential

BY Jason Owen

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — NJoy today announced the results of a pilot study that has been accepted for publication in the American Journal of Health Behavior and will be published online on October 1, 2013. The study, supported by NJoy and led by independent researchers Mitchell Nides, Ph.D. and Scott Leischow, Ph.D. evaluated nicotine delivery from the NJoy Kings Bold Electronic Delivery System (ENDS) and its short-term potential for smoking reduction or cessation. Results indicated that the NJoy Kings Bold ENDS delivered nicotine at a rate comparable to some FDA-approved nicotine replacement therapy products and that use of the product during the course of the one-week study led to short-term smoking reduction.

The open-label study, consisting of 25 smokers ages 18 years to 65 years who were not interested in quitting, found:

  • Mean daily cigarette smoking decreased from the baseline week to the trial week in 89% of subjects, with a statistically significant mean reduction in cigarettes smoked per day of 39%.
  • Smoking was reduced by 50% or more in 32% of subjects.
  • 16% of subjects had reduced their consumption of cigarettes to zero by the end of the study period.
  • Subjects had generally favorable perceptions of the NJoy Kings product at the end of the one-week trial period, with more than half reporting “high satisfaction” with a number of product features.

The results suggest that the NJoy Kings product delivered enough nicotine to suppress craving and was generally liked. However, the small number of subjects and short one-week testing period limit the study’s efficacy. Thus, while the results indicated that the NJoy Kings product has potential for use in smoking reduction and cessation, larger trials are needed.

“NJoy is actively engaged in expanding the science base on the health effects of electronic cigarettes and their potential to reduce the harms associated with traditional tobacco cigarettes,” said Dr. Richard Carmona, former Surgeon General of the United States and the chair of NJoy’s Scientific Advisory Committee. “These preliminary findings underscore the need for further research on the category and its potential for harm reduction.”


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NRF: July retail sales up 5% over year-ago period

BY Jason Owen

WASHINGTON — July retail sales saw gains in many back-to-school categories like clothing and sporting goods, but surprising declines in home-based categories, including building materials and furniture stores. Still, according to the National Retail Federation, July retail sales (excluding automobiles, gas stations and restaurants) increased 0.3% seasonally adjusted from June and increased 5% unadjusted year-over-year.

"Consumers continue to grind forward in July, marking 13 consecutive months of retail sales gains," said NRF president and CEO Matthew Shay. "However, consumers alone can’t be expected to shoulder the burden of the economy. Fiscal and monetary policy uncertainties combined with stagnant economic and employment conditions continue to breed a volatile market with extreme swings in consumer spending. The economy can’t seem to maintain any amount of momentum. We just can’t seem to pull ourselves up."

July retail sales, released today by the U.S. Census Bureau, showed that total retail and food services sales (which include non-general merchandise categories, such as automobiles, gasoline stations and restaurants) increased 0.2% seasonally adjusted month-to-month and increased 5.4% adjusted year-over-year.

"Spending has stalled, and the economy is stuck in neutral," said NRF chief economist Jack Kleinhenz. "Even with modest employment gains and steady consumer confidence, Americans remain in a cautiously-positive spending pattern. While clothing and sporting goods retailers saw modest gains with early back-to-school shopping, home-based retailers saw marked decreases, possibly indicating the end of the year-long housing boom. This month’s retail sales report will make any decision on tapering that much harder for policymakers in D.C."

Other findings from the July retail sales report include:

  • Building material and garden equipment and supplies dealers stores’ sales decreased 0.4% seasonally-adjusted yet increased 9.8% unadjusted year-over-year.
  • Clothing and clothing accessories stores’ sales increased 0.9% seasonally-adjusted month-to-month and increased 5.3% unadjusted year-over-year.
  • Electronics and appliance stores’ sales decreased 0.1% seasonally-adjusted month-to-month yet increased 0.8% unadjusted year-over-year.
  • Furniture and home furnishing stores’ sales decreased 1.4% seasonally-adjusted month-to-month yet increased 5.1% unadjusted year-over-year.
  • General merchandise stores’ sales increased 0.4% seasonally-adjusted month-to-month and increased 1.3% unadjusted year-over-year.
  • Health and personal care stores’ sales increased 0.7% seasonally-adjusted month-to-month and increased 3.3% unadjusted year-over-year.
  • Nonstore retailers’ sales increased 0.1% seasonally-adjusted month-to-month and increased 11.3% unadjusted year-over-year.
  • Sporting goods, hobby, book and music stores sales increased 1.0% seasonally-adjusted month-to-month and increased 3.9% unadjusted year-over-year.

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