PHARMACY

NCPA outlines legislative priorities

BY Michael Johnsen

ALEXANDRIA, Va. — The National Community Pharmacists Association on Wednesday announced its federal and state legislative priorities with the release of the Independent Community Pharmacy Checklist. The one-page document details the main legislative actions NCPA and its members will advocate for this year at the federal and state levels. 

“The healthcare landscape is changing rapidly as efforts to improve patient outcomes and reduce costs gain momentum,” stated Douglas Hoey, NCPA CEO. "Although there are many issues affecting the ability of patients to access their medications and have a choice in their pharmacist, we believe these legislative priorities have the greatest potential to benefit patients and the pharmacists who serve them," he said. “The largest impediment to independent community pharmacies serving the needs of their patients is the bureaucratic morass they must wade through and the questionable business practices of often unregulated pharmacy benefit managers, which are why greater oversight of this industry is badly needed."

NCPA supports legislative efforts to provide greater choice of pharmacies for consumers, basic transparency in generic prescription drug reimbursement calculations and fairer standards for pharmacy audits at the federal level.

NCPA also supports expanding the pharmacist’s role in health care through coordinated care models, as a first step toward gaining provider status. And NCPA supports preserving patient access to diabetes testing supplies by removing the provision in the fiscal cliff deal to impose draconian reimbursement cuts to these vital products.

Other legislative issues supported by NCPA include protecting patient access to traditional compounding and preserving military family access to community pharmacies by increasing generic prescription drug utilization, while preserving patient choice of pharmacies.

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PHARMACY

Nearly 90 representatives call on USPS to preserve Saturday delivery of medications

BY Alaric DeArment

WASHINGTON — More than seven dozen members of the House of Representatives are urging the U.S. Postal Service to continue delivering medications to all Americans six days a week.

In a letter to U.S. postmaster general and CEO Patrick Donahoe, a bipartisan group of 88 representatives pointed out that many Medicare, Medicaid, Tricare, Veterans Administration and other beneficiaries rely on mail-order delivery of medications.

"Whether it is a homebound senior that cannot walk or drive to the pharmacy, or a veteran who lives in a rural area with limited access to the prescription drugs they need, all of these home-delivery beneficiaries cannot afford to go without their medications for days," the representatives wrote. "Nor should they have to obtain their medications through more costly delivery methods, which would only draw business away from the USPS and threaten its long-term financial stability."

The letter was sent amid plans that the Postal Service announced to halt Saturday delivery of mail. Last year, the agency racked up losses of nearly $16 billion, and the reduced delivery plan, set to take effect in August, is expected to save about $2 billion annually.

"About 1-in-6 prescriptions that are home-delivered arrive on Saturday," said president and CEO Mark Merritt of the Pharmaceutical Care Management Association, a lobbying group for the pharmacy benefit management industry, which makes extensive use of mail-order pharmacy to deliver medications to patients. "Consumers count on getting their prescriptions at the right time and often can’t wait an additional two days, or even three days in the case of federal holidays that fall on a Monday."


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Bi-Lo expands prescription program through loyalty card

BY Michael Johnsen

GREENVILLE, S.C. — Bi-Lo on Wednesday launched in all of its pharmacies a prescription program that significantly enhances the offerings of its existing program. The expanded program runs through the Bi-Lo BonusCard and offers deep discounts on more than 450 generic medications and varied discounts on name-brand and other generic medication.

“Not everyone has insurance or health benefits that adequately cover prescriptions,” stated John Fegan, VP pharmacy for Bi-Lo. “This expanded program offers significantly deeper services to our customers, provides a wider array of discounted medications and is significantly easier for our customers to use now that it runs directly through our BonusCard."

For an annual enrollment fee of $5, customers with a Bi-Lo BonusCard can realize expanded benefits, including: 

  • A $5 store coupon automatically loaded to the customer’s BonusCard;
  • $4 30-day and $10 90-day generic prescription pricing on an extensive list of more than 450 generic drugs;
  • Discounts on brands and other generic medications;
  • A list of free antibiotics;
  • Free blood pressure medication, including Lisinopril 2.5 mg, 5 mg, 10 mg, 20 mg, 30 mg, and 40 mg; and
  • Free diabetes medication including, Metformin 500 mg, 850 mg, and 1,000 mg immediate release tablets.

 


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