Pharmacy Times

Arguing for Continued Access to Diabetic Testing Supplies at Retail Pharmacies

Author: Kate H. Gamble, Senior Editor

The American Pharmacists Association (APhA), Food Marketing Institute (FMI), National Association of Chain Drug Stores (NACDS) and National Alliance of State Pharmacy Associations (NASPA) issued a letter to US Senate and House Leadership urging Congress to maintain access to diabetic testing supplies (DTS) for patients with diabetes in retail pharmacies.

“The diabetic condition is potentially very volatile and environmental variations may cause more immediate needs for DTS that only be served by retail pharmacies, rather than awaiting the arrival of a mail order package,” the letter stated.

In 2003, Congress created the Medicare Part B competitive bidding program for durable medical equipment. Although diabetic testing supplies are considered durable medical equipment under the Medicare program, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) intentionally excluded diabetic testing supplies furnished by retail pharmacies from the competitive bidding process to ensure access to these vital supplies for diabetic patients.

APhA, FMI, NACDS and NASPA are urging Congress to maintain the current exclusion in the competitive bidding program for all retail pharmacies providing diabetes testing supplies for Medicare beneficiaries.

"Medicare patients with diabetes rely heavily on local retail pharmacies for prescription medications and diabetes testing supplies. Pharmacists help seniors with diabetes understand the best way to use their diabetes testing equipment and are uniquely positioned to help identify changes in patients' conditions that may require additional referral and treatment,” the associations wrote. “This coordinated care is vital to seniors with diabetes, helping them manage their disease, navigating through the various options available to them, and preventing more costly interventions.”

"Ending the retail pharmacy exclusion from the competitive bidding program would be a major mistake. This would significantly reduce access to local pharmacies as a source of care. Limiting access to supplies and pharmacist consultation will lead to under-testing, decreased medication adherence, poorer outcomes and increased costs," the letter continued.

To view the letter, please click here.