Medicare Waste Reduction Plan Draws NCPA Criticism

A new law designed to reduce pharmaceutical waste could have unintended consequences for the 7000 community pharmacies that serve Medicare patients in long-term care facilities.

A new law designed to reduce pharmaceutical waste could have unintended consequences for the 7000 community pharmacies that serve Medicare patients in long-term care facilities.

In a letter to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), the National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA) criticized a provision of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act aimed at reducing the number of prescription drugs dispensed to Medicare patients in long-term care facilities.

The law would shorten the 30-day fill cycle for Part D drugs, quadrupling the number of prescriptions dispensed per month by pharmacies that serve this patient population.

Writing on behalf of 22,700 community pharmacies, pharmacy franchises, and small chains, NCPA’s senior vice president, John M. Coster, PhD, RPh, argued that while “NCPA shares CMS’ interest in reducing waste,” the proposed changes could be disruptive for independent pharmacies and, consequently, patient care.

To prevent such scenarios, Coster suggested CMS conduct unbiased, peer-reviewed studies to examine the benefits of a shorter dispensing cycle before making any decisions. The plan must include provisions for prompt and appropriate reimbursement as well, to help pharmacies “meet the heavy burdens of additional dispensing cycles,” Coster wrote.

The changes would be especially challenging for smaller pharmacies, which Coster argued should be exempt from the requirement. Finally, Coster emphasized the importance of transition time. He recommended 2-year implementation process, which would begin in January 2012.

“This is an example where the law of unintended consequences can be anticipated well in advance,” said Bruce T. Roberts, RPh, NCPA executive vice president and CEO. “We hope CMS is prudent in the policy that is implemented.”

The complete letter is available here.

For other articles in this issue, see:

  • 5 Lifestyle Factors Account for 80% of Stroke Risk
  • As Population Ages, Opportunity Knocks for Pharmacists
  • Type 2 Diabetes Patients Lack Vitamin D, Study Shows