HEALTH

Pharmacies should get out of tobacco-selling, into smoking-cessation game

BY Antoinette Alexander

WHAT IT MEANS AND WHY IT’S IMPORTANT The news that San Francisco’s board of supervisors gave preliminary approval to ban tobacco sales at all retailers that operate pharmacies, including mass merchants and grocers, is a step in the right direction, because if drug stores are going to be banned from selling them, then all retail pharmacy outlets should be banned. However, there’s an even bigger picture to consider.

(THE NEWS: Report: San Francisco supervisors OK tobacco sales ban at pharmacies. For the full story, click here)

As many dollars as pharmacy retailers made selling cigarettes, there is much more to be gained in medication therapy management, and there is a significant opportunity for retail pharmacy to have a greater stake in the future of health care.

Cigarette smoking has been identified as the most important source of preventable disease, illness and death worldwide, according to the American Lung Association. Smoking-related diseases claim an estimated 443,000 American lives each year, including those affected indirectly by "secondhand" smoke.

Furthermore, smoking-related healthcare expenditures are a major drain on the U.S. healthcare system. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, smoking cost the United States more than $193 billion in 2004, including $97 billion in lost productivity and $96 billion in direct healthcare expenditures, or an average of $4,260 per adult smoker.

Clearly, there’s a positive role that pharmacists can play in smoking cessation. To further support this, a recently published study on the "effect of a pharmacist-managed smoking-cessation clinic on quit rates" found that pharmacists can play a vital role in smoking cessation, especially in a group setting, as they can reach more people within the same time frame.

The study found that at three months and six months, 47.6% and 52.4% of patients reported being smoke-free, respectively. The study was conducted on patients that had participated in the pharmacist-managed Smoking Cessation Group Clinic at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics. Participants received structured group counseling on various topics associated with cessation.

It also should be noted that in August, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services announced that Medicare coverage for seniors trying to quit smoking was expanded to include everyone on Medicare.

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HEALTH

NACDS praises organized retail crime bill

BY Allison Cerra

ALEXANDRIA, Va. A bipartisan legislation that seeks to prevent organized retail crime is being applauded by the chain pharmacy industry.

The Organized Retail Theft Investigation and Prosecution Act of 2010, introduced by Reps. Bobby Scott, D-Va., and Lamar Smith, R-Texas, would create a specific task force within the Department of Justice to investigate and prosecute instances involving organized retail crime.

Responding to this proposed legislation, the National Association of Chain Drug Stores commended Reps. Scott and Smith for their leadership to curb the growing problem of organized retail crime, noting that retailers not only face such burdens as increased costs and investment to cover their losses, but consumers also face risks.

 

“Consumers are placed at risk when package tampering occurs on consumer healthcare products, such as infant formula and over-the-counter medications. These stolen products are repackaged and relabeled to falsely extend a product’s expiration date or to hide the fact that the item has been stolen,” NACDS wrote in a letter. The NACDS also urged Congress to support legislation that treats theft committed by organized, professional crime rings as a federal felony.

 

 

“We commend you again for introducing and advancing strong bipartisan legislation that will assist retailers and law enforcement to combat the serious problem of organized retail crime, and we look forward to working with you to enact this important legislation,” the letter stated.

 

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NCPA supports drug disposal bills, makes approval recommendations

BY Allison Cerra

ALEXANDRIA, Va. A group representing the nation’s independent pharmacies heralded two pieces of legislation that pertain to the safe disposal of prescription drugs.

The National Community Pharmacists Association announced its support of legislative efforts made by the House of Representatives and the Senate, which passed their respective drug disposal bills Wednesday and last month. NCPA also added that it was “a giant step forward to allow for controlled substances, which had previously been precluded from any disposal programs, to be included.”

The lobbying group did, however, express concern that neither bill passed by the legislative bodies will provide liability protections for participating pharmacies nor adequate funding mechanisms or grant programs to assist in the cost of responsible collection. These concerns were conveyed to the House prior to the vote, NCPA said.

“Independent community pharmacists are uniquely positioned to help Americans get rid of expired and unused prescription drugs,” said Joseph Harmison, NCPA president and pharmacy owner. “That’s why over 1,000 member pharmacies are now engaged in a successful drug disposal programs with Sharps Compliance Inc.”

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