By Kevin Schweers
The more than 250 independent community pharmacists coming to Washington, DC this week for NCPA’s Legislative Conference will visit with hundreds of Members of Congress, but not all 535 Senators and Representatives. To reinforce with these lawmakers and others the value of community pharmacists and pharmacists’ federal policy priorities for 2013, NCPA is running advertisements in key publications.
One ad succinctly sums up the value independent community pharmacists provide to patients and to the health care system. It recalls the high levels of trust and satisfaction that patients have with pharmacists, as documented in surveys by Gallup and Consumer Reports, among others. It also reminds people that independent community pharmacies, in particular, serve the underserved, in rural and inner-city locations where no other pharmacy provider may be accessible. The ad concludes by noting how community pharmacists can help reduce overall health care costs. For example, they help promote proper use of lower-cost generic drugs. And a recent survey of millions of Medicare prescription drug event (PDE) data found that community pharmacies provide 90-day supplies of medications at lower overall cost than mail order as well as do a better job substituting generic drugs, where appropriate.
Another ad illustrates that in every state independent community pharmacies are an important presence and source of accessible, face-to-face health care and jobs. Some top NCPA legislative priorities are also conveyed, including common-sense standards for pharmacy audits; requiring generic drug reimbursement rates to be updated promptly to reflect price spikes; expanding medication therapy management (MTM) through S. 557 / H.R. 1024; letting any willing and legitimate pharmacy provider participate in “preferred pharmacy” networks; and to preserve patient access to customized medications through pharmacy compounding. Of course, NCPA’s full checklist of policy priorities is available online.
Anyone who supports pro-patient, pro-pharmacist policies can lend their support through the resources made available by NCPA, particularly during Community Pharmacy Advocacy Weeks, running through May 10.