Federal officials are counting on thenation's pharmacists to play a leadingrole in educating the nation's seniorsabout the new Medicare Part D prescriptiondrug benefit that takes effectnext year.
In an address at the American PharmacistsAssociation's Annual Meetingin Orlando, Fla, Centers for Medicareand Medicaid Services AdministratorMark B. McClellan, MD, PhD, calledon the profession to assume a "centralrole" in the new drug program. Headded that the Medicare Rx benefit"will not work without the supportand involvement of pharmacists."
According to Dr. McClellan, pharmacy'sfirst job will involve explainingthe new drug benefit to America's seniors.Citing research suggesting thatone third of America's seniors are likelyto turn to pharmacists for advice aboutthe new prescription program, he saidthat his agency will be working withthe APhA and other pharmacy groupsover the next few months to ensurethat they have accurate information topass on to Medicare beneficiaries.
Although the new Rx benefit doesnot take effect until January 1, 2006,enrollment in the program begins onNovember 15, 2005. Seniors will haveuntil May 15, 2006, to sign up for theprogram. The sooner they do so, however,the more they will save inreduced drug costs, Dr. McClellan said.
Mr. Rankin is a freelance medical writer.