nacds SPEAKS OUT: One Voice Is Critical in Pharmacy Today

Pharmacy Times
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As they say, there is strength innumbers. Community pharmacyhas put this to the test andcan say without a doubt that it is true! Therecent decision by Congress to forgo themandatory mail-order provision for militaryactive-duty and retirees, all part ofthe Defense Authorization Act, was a testamentto the fact that with "one voice" community pharmacy can be relevantand have a positive impact. This one voiceresonated with legislators in Washingtonloud and clear, all through the efforts ofthe Coalition for Community PharmacyAction, a true partnership between theNational Association of Chain Drug Stores(NACDS) and the National CommunityPharmacists Association (NCPA).Pharmacists and military beneficiariesnationwide sent >100,000 e-mails andletters and placed calls to the offices oftheir congressional representatives overthe past 2 months urging them to continueto provide military beneficiaries thechoice to use community pharmacy fortheir medications instead of mail order.

While we are pleased with the decisionto continue providing choice to our militarypersonnel, our work is not over. Plansare being developed to continue to workwith the Department of Defense to assistin the implementation of this criticalpiece of legislation and to continue to findadditional ways to reduce the costs ofproducts for the retail portion of the prescriptionprogram.

Another example of how one voice canhave significant impact in the industry isthrough a collaborative initiative betweencommunity pharmacy and the pharmaceuticalindustry.

Recently, NACDS, NCPA, and thePharmaceutical Research and Manufacturersof America (PhRMA) cametogether to discuss the issue of how thevalue of prescription medications coupledwith the medication-related servicesprovided by pharmacists can be betterunderstood by patients and payers ofhealth care.

The value of medicines can be demonstratedthrough the ongoing advancementsin drug discovery, leading to moreinnovative therapies and patients livinglonger. Pharmacists can play a complementaryand valuable role by helpingpatients understand their medicationsand the important long-term health outcomeof taking them as prescribed. It isonly by the combination of the 2, pharmaceuticalsand pharmacy services, that thetrue value of what we do is accomplished.One term that we have beenusing to describe our efforts is "the dualvalue message."

You may be wondering why this is suchan important issue that it warrants thetremendous resources of 3 organizations' efforts. As you know, the US health caresystem is faced with tremendous challenges,especially in the area of escalatingcosts. The critical question facing payersof health care today is how to deliverquality care at a lesser cost to the system.For years, the focus to accomplishthis goal was on the cost drivers, whichwere primarily the price of pharmaceuticals.Recently, the focus has shifted awayfrom costs to the longer-term benefits ofdelivering quality care. Research hasshown that overall health care costs candecline if patients understand their medicationsand take their medications asprescribed. This is where the pharmacistcomes into play. Pharmacists are uniquelypositioned and equipped to maximizethe value of medicines through the implementationof expanded patient services.

This will be an important collaborativeeffort for our industry, and it can alsodemonstrate that by speaking with onevoice, our message will be heard. Themeetings have just begun, and I will continueto share some of the work of thisgroup as we progress.

Mr. Hannan is serving as presidentand chief executive officer of theNational Association of Chain DrugStores.

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