PHARMACY

NCPA responds to CMS’ diabetes competitive bidding program

BY Allison Cerra

ALEXANDRIA, Va. A group representing the nation’s independent pharmacies is urging caution as the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services continues its Medicare Part B durable medical equipment, prosthetics, orthotics and supplies competitive bidding program.

The National Community Pharmacists Association issued a statement Thursday urging caution against actions that possibly could “undermine or reverse the benefits of coordinated care,” as community pharmacies work on a daily basis with diabetes patients and physicians to improve health outcomes and lower healthcare costs.

“[The] inclusion of small pharmacies in the bidding program or reimbursing them at the newly announced mail order rates eventually would result in the virtual elimination of independents from the program. Independents don’t operate with the purchasing power of large-chains or mail order competitors and thus can’t always match those prices,” NCPA president Joseph Harmison said.

The group also pointed out that seniors in rural or underserved areas depend on community pharmacies for consultations and diabetes testing supplies; the DMEPOS competitive bidding program should continue without interferring with small chain pharmacies’ operations.

“When seniors cannot consult their local pharmacists about their medications and testing supplies, inevitably problems will arise. It’s common for mail order customers to end up in independent pharmacies seeking instruction on how to use the testing supplies — care for which the local pharmacist is not compensated. Plus, many supplies are changing, so the way seniors use them needs to change. Local pharmacists help ensure patients get accurate blood glucose readings – not a false sense of security or an unnecessary state of panic,” Harmison concluded.

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Study: Pharmacist-provided MTM services can improve patient health, save money

BY Alaric DeArment

ALEXANDRIA, Va. Medication therapy management services and cheaper therapies can help improve patient outcomes and save money, according to a new study sponsored by the National Association of Chain Drug Stores.

With funding from an NACDS Foundation grant, the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill conducted the study at Kerr Drug, a regional retail pharmacy chain between 2006 and 2007. The study was published in the May/June 2010 issue of the Journal of the American Pharmacists Association, titled “Retrospective analysis of community pharmacists’ recommendations in the North Carolina Medicaid medication therapy management program.” The study found that when physicians and pharmacists worked together to review patient profiles and communicated more with their patients, patients listened to their healthcare providers and demonstrated better medication adherence.

The study found that through pharmacist-provided MTM services and coordination with prescribers, patient outcomes improved, while they also saved an average of $107 per year per beneficiary. The New England Healthcare Institute estimated that medication-related problems, including poor adherence, cost the healthcare system as much as $290 billion per year.

“Medication adherence is a crucial component in improving patient health and reducing overall public healthcare costs,” NACDS Foundation president Edith Rosato said. “This study is a perfect example of the public benefits of medication therapy management. Counseling patients on how to adhere to medication regimen, recommending lower-cost medication alternatives and recognizing harmful drug interactions can, over time, result in better health for a patient and reduced costs for public healthcare programs like Medicaid.”

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NCPA Foundation receives $100K grant from Purdue Pharma

BY Allison Cerra

ALEXANDRIA, Va. The charitable arm of the National Community Pharmacists Association has been awarded a $100,000 grant by Purdue Pharma to advance the foundation’s efforts to stimulate community pharmacy-based research that helps improve patient care and education.

The NCPA Foundation said the grant will support its Catalyst Grant Award Program for Innovative Practice, with a focus on pain management.

“As healthcare providers, we know that partnerships and the pooling of resources are vital to improving our nation’s healthcare delivery system in an effective and responsive manner,” said Sharlea Leatherwood, NCPA Foundation president. “Purdue’s funding of the Catalyst Grant Award Program underscores the importance of such collaboration.”

The Catalyst Grant Award Program is designed to be conducted over a four-year period, with the selected best practices widely communicated to the pharmacy profession, other healthcare providers, policy-makers and payers, as well as patient and disease advocacy organizations. After four years, the program should generate a significant body of knowledge and evidence to showcase the effectiveness of pharmacy-provided services and the efficacy of pharmaceuticals when properly used.

Interested applicants must be NCPA members and currently licensed and engaged in independent pharmacy practice. Each grant will provide $3,000 or $5,000 to support up to an eight-month project. The application deadline is Aug. 6. Grant recipients will be announced at the NCPA 112th Annual Convention and Trade Exposition at the Pennsylvania Convention Center in Philadelphia, Oct. 23 to 27. For more information, visit NCPAFoundation.org/Purdue.shtml.

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