Blogs: The Reinvented Pharmacist

Fragmented Drug Distribution

Published Online: Monday, March 17, 2014
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Why has our drug distribution system become so fragmented? In an era when we want to make our health care system more coherent, we continue to see efforts—I guess with the goal of saving money—that actually promote fragmentation.
 
At first, it was specialty pharmaceuticals that created limited distribution of select medications. We were told that this was to assure compliance and/or improve quality of care. Now, we hear that Tricare for Life beneficiaries soon will receive letters guiding them to Tricare Pharmacy Home Delivery or a military pharmacy for some prescriptions as part of a congressionally mandated pilot program. It seems that this requirement does not apply to acute care or generic medication. This means that Tricare for Life patients may get their medications from more than one pharmacy.
 
Will the pharmacies know about all the medications a patient is taking? Who will educate the patient, monitor for drug interactions, or even evaluate compliance? Why did Congress think it was acceptable to create disruption in the drug distribution system for patients? Could it be that drug products are viewed as a commodity and not really a component of health care services?
 
As pharmacy keeps pushing for medication therapy management payments or provider status, could pharmacists be contributing indirectly to the view that drugs are just another commodity where price is the key consideration?
About
Fred Eckel, RPh, MS, Editor-in-Chief of Pharmacy Times
Blog Info
This blog focuses on what our Editor-in-Chief sees as the future of pharmacy.
Author Bio
Fred Eckel, RPh, MS, is the Editor-in-Chief of Pharmacy Times, a position he has held since 2002. Mr. Eckel is a professor at the Eshelman School of Pharmacy, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He serves as executive director of the North Carolina Association of Pharmacists.

In this blog, Eckel will provide commentary on relevant issues impacting pharmacists and pharmacy professionals, including the merging of pharmacy benefit managers, the implications of health care reform, the conversion of major drugs from prescription to over-the-counter, trends in pharmacy careers, and opioid abuse. He will also discuss legislative issues that impact pharmacists, and comment on the evolving role of the pharmacist.
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