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NCPA ads feature community pharmacy proposals to trim federal deficit

BY Antoinette Alexander

ALEXANDRIA, Va. — With the congressional “super-committee” inching closer to making budget decisions to reduce the deficit, the National Community Pharmacists Association announced on Monday that it has developed two new advertisements reinforcing how local pharmacists can reduce federal healthcare costs.

“Community pharmacists can help reduce healthcare expenses by maximizing the appropriate utilization of lower-cost generic drugs and through face-to-face, expert counseling on the proper use of medications as prescribed for patients,” stated NCPA CEO B. Douglas Hoey. “Small-business community pharmacies are ready and willing to work constructively with policy-makers to address rising medical costs while maintaining patients’ access to the cost-cutting services of local pharmacists.”

NCPA first offered its recommendations in a Sept. 7 letter to “super-committee” members.

NCPA’s first ad focuses on overall deficit reduction. It offers policy-makers five recommendations to lower spending:

  • Utilize local pharmacists to increase the appropriate use of low-cost generic drugs in Medicare Part D, Medicaid and Tricare;

  • Reduce an estimated $290 billion in avoidable healthcare spending by empowering pharmacists to counsel patients face-to-face on proper medication use;

  • Collect billions of dollars in drug manufacturer rebates retained by middlemen pharmacy benefit managers in Medicare, Medicaid and Federal Employees Health Benefits Program;

  • Reduce costly waste in mail-order pharmacy, particularly “mandatory mail” plans; and

  • Allow community pharmacists to continue providing advice and testing supplies to keep Medicare patients with diabetes healthy.

The second ad highlights H.R. 1936, the Medicare Access to Diabetes Supplies Act, legislation introduced by Reps. Aaron Schock, R-Ill., and Peter Welch, D-Vt. The bipartisan bill would reduce the deficit and permanently exempt independent community pharmacies (defined as 10 or fewer pharmacies under common ownership) from competitive bidding prices in the Medicare Part B Durable Medical Equipment, Prosthetics, Orthotics and Supplies program. A recent survey of more than 800 community pharmacists found 84% of them would be forced to stop providing access to diabetes testing supplies if they had to competitively bid or accept prices set by that process.

In addition, NCPA has developed an analysis of the many cuts community pharmacies have already had to absorb in recent years. That document finds that community pharmacies have seen prescription drug reimbursement slashed by more than $15 billion. Between 2005 and 2010, the number of independent community pharmacies that are operating at an overall financial loss has increased by 64% and now accounts for 23% of independent community pharmacies.

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Deloitte Consumer Spending Index plunges

BY DSN STAFF

NEW YORK — Deloitte on Monday released some disappointing news for retailers who were hoping that consumer spending might get a boost in the months leading up to the holiday season.

The Deloitte Consumer Spending Index plunged in September to its lowest level since May 2009, primarily due to a significant fall in home prices and deterioration in real wages.

The index, which comprises four components — tax burden, initial unemployment claims, real wages and real home prices — fell to 2.39 from 2.51 the previous month.

“Consumers may start to re-evaluate what’s in their shopping baskets and put non-essentials back on the shelf until they feel more confident about the economy’s prospects,” said Alison Paul, vice chairman and U.S. retail and distribution sector leader for Deloitte LLP. “It’s critical retailers understand consumers’ purchasing behaviors and attitudes and are prepared to make quick decisions about which items to mark down and where to hold the line this holiday season. Also, by capturing non-transactional data such as interactions with customers, call center logs, click streams and social media connections, retailers can better understand what drives customer engagement and buying decisions.”

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Kerr Drug offers flu shots at N.C. State Fair

BY Alaric DeArment

RALEIGH, N.C. — County and state fairs across the country draw millions of visitors every year, but many fairgoers forget to bring along things like sunscreen, headache relievers and antacids.

In response, Kerr Drug is sponsoring a "general store" at the North Carolina State Fair, the regional retail pharmacy chain said. In addition to the aforementioned items, it also will act as the exclusive provider of flu shots at the fair, and Kerr Drug pharmacists will be on hand to provide flu shots to individuals ages 14 and older.

"The NC State Fair shows off the best traditions of North Carolina and Kerr Drug, with our headquarters in Raleigh and our pharmacies across the state, and is proud to be the operator of the fair’s general store [and] the exclusive provider of flu shots of the N.C. State Fair," Kerr Drug CEO Tony Civello said.

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