Congress' Health-Innovation Focus Means Opportunities for Pharmacy



July 16, 2014

Something is brewing in Congress. Maybe it is a result of eagerness to move beyond the political battles of the Affordable Care Act. Maybe it is an acknowledgement of rapid change underway in the private sector. Maybe it is simple curiosity. In any case, it seems that Congressional actions are drawing a trend line that reflects growing interest in technological advancements and other innovations that have the potential to reshape the healthcare landscape.

Just look at the Congressional hearing schedule for Thursday, July 17. It includes a House of Representatives Science, Space & Technology subcommittee hearing on Innovative Medical Achievements. It also includes a joint hearing of subcommittees of the House Energy & Commerce Committee on Technological Advancements in Health Care.

These hearings follow two hearings last week in the House Energy & Commerce Subcommittee on Health — both related to the 21st Century Cures Initiative. NACDS expressed enthusiasm for that initiative – led by House Energy & Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) and Rep. Diana DeGette (D-CO) – which seeks to advance research that will lead to advanced cures for complex diseases.

At the NACDS Annual Meeting in April, I mentioned that the value of a trade association can be seen in its ability to address the issues that arise — the challenges and opportunities before an entire industry. We are seeing rapid change in these issues. In April, I mentioned topics like personalized medication treatments, use of the “cloud” and big data to improve patient health, the growing popularity of wearable technology that monitors health factors, the importance of cybersecurity amid all of these developments, and much more.

These examples only scratch the surface. We could name many more examples of emerging issues right now, and many more will present themselves in the near future. It is becoming more and more clear that Congress is intrigued with the possibilities that innovation presents for healthcare delivery and patient health. Pharmacy has a lot to say on these matters, and NACDS stands ready to engage in policy discussions of these matters — wherever they arise.

Steven C. Anderson, IOM, CAE

NACDS President & CEO

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