Alexandria, Va. July 11, 2013 - The National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA) is providing independent community pharmacy owners with a resource kit called Take Charge of Rx Benefits in Your Community to help pre-empt anti-patient drug benefit designs, such as those that require the use of mail order facilities for prescription drugs.
The kit, which is free for NCPA members, can facilitate community pharmacist outreach to local employers, such as school districts and municipalities; offers tips about who to meet with in those organizations to discuss common interests (improved patient health, lower costs, community involvement, and support of other local businesses, etc.); and sets forth a procedure for local employers to receive objective advice from industry experts. The kit is another way for independent community pharmacists to be more effective in correcting the out of balance business relationship between community pharmacies and giant pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs), whose administration of prescription drug plans does not always serve the best interests of patients or health plan sponsors, much less pharmacists. As the first step, NCPA is encouraging independent community pharmacy owners to hold at least three meetings this year with their local employers.
"Concrete business solutions are one of the best ways to move the needle in achieving more desirable results," said NCPA CEO B. Douglas Hoey, RPh, MBA. "While NCPA will continue to press for PBM reform at the federal level through bills such as the Medicare Prescription Drug Program Integrity and Transparency Act (S. 867), and work in concert with state pharmacy groups for local reform measures, the legislative and regulatory arena is not the only avenue for change. That's why we are helping to empower independent community pharmacy owners to be more proactive and effective in helping local health plan sponsors avoid PBM plan designs that are not transparent, lack flexibility, and neither maximizes costs savings nor health outcomes. Take Charge of Rx Benefits in Your Community is the sort of multi-faceted toolkit that can make a difference."
Take Charge of Rx Benefits in Your Community marks phase two of NCPA's campaign to educate decision makers and consumers about the value of their prescription drug benefit. Last year NCPA launched whorunsmydrugplan.com, which features three award-winning videos called "The Third Wheel," "Mail Order Madness," and "Fed Up With Phil." They took a humorous but instructive look at the questionable business practices of PBMs, embodied in each video by a character called Phil MyPockets. A new video "Phil MyPockets Mashup," which includes bloopers and a recap of the previous three videos, was just added to the site to mark the one-year anniversary of this effort. All of these interactive communications vehicles can be used in conjunction with pharmacists' outreach to employers.
Hoey added, "For too long PBMs with a vested interest in a mail order pharmacy have dominated the discussion and set the agenda for health plan sponsors seeking solutions. The best response to PBM assertions of the value of their services is simple. If prescription drug costs are rising, if patient access is shrinking, if the quality of care is decreasing—while PBM profits are increasing—then why not try a new approach? Take Charge of Rx Benefits in Your Community contains a viable roadmap to guide health plan sponsors in a better direction."
The toolkit provides educational materials on PBMs and plan-related issues to supplement these meetings and directs the employer to where solutions can be found. Specifically, HealthPlan Data Solutions, LLC (HDS) can work with employers and plan sponsors to identify PBMs that favor transparent benefit designs to better align the interests of employers, patients, prescribers, and independent community pharmacies. To aid its members, NCPA has dedicated an email address ( WhoRunsMyDrugPlan@ncpanet.org) and phone number (703-600-1181). The kit is available through the NCPA Bookstore. This month's America's Pharmacist™ also contains an in-depth feature story about this ground-breaking program. Links to similarly focused websites can be found at www.whorunsmydrugplan.com.
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