Pharmacists Unite in Campaign to Reform Washington

In anticipation of its annual summit on Capitol Hill, the National Association of Chain Drug Stores is urging pharmacists of all stripes to participate in pro-pharmacy grassroots efforts.

As officials in Washington struggle to reach a consensus on health care reform today, the National Association of Chain Drug Stores (NACDS) is finalizing plans to host its annual RxIMPACT Day on Capitol Hill. Held in March, this grassroots political event will gather more than 200 pharmacy advocates before members of Congress to discuss key reform issues that directly impact pharmacies.

In advance of the event, NACDS is urging pharmacists to write letters to their representatives in the House and Senate to express support for measures that will reduce costs and improve patient access to neighborhood pharmacies. In a form letter available on its Web site, the organization outlines 4 pro-pharmacy principles that they believe must be included in the final bill.

The first principle concerns the Medicaid reimbursement system, which NACDS calls “broken.” NACDS takes a firm stance on this issue, advocating for reimbursement of more than 175% of the weighted average manufacturer price of generic drugs. This is a slightly stronger position than that of the National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA), which in its recent letter to Obama called for reimbursement of at least 175%.

Also included in the letter is a demand to abolish regulations that prevent pharmacies from selling durable medical equipment to seniors. Hefty bonds and accreditation requirements limit access to this equipment, which includes necessities such as diabetes supplies and Medicare Part B-covered drugs.

On the issue of medication therapy management (MTM), NACDS echoes the beliefs of other pro-pharmacy institutions. It supports the expansion of pharmacy services, citing the importance of MTM in preventing medication misuse and improving adherence.

The final principle outlined in the letter urges lawmakers to oppose measures that could allow prescription drugs to be imported from foreign countries. This solution, often seen as a way to reduce prescription drug costs, is unacceptable to pharmacy advocates, who believe it would compromise the safety of the US drug supply.

In its conferences with government officials at the RxIMPACT Day on Capitol Hill, NACDS will provide pharmacists the unique opportunity to discuss these issues face-to-face with lawmakers. Participants will attend a legislative briefing in the morning before pairing with others from their state to attend scheduled meetings with members of Congress. The event is free and open to the pharmacy community, and NACDS encourages the participation of pharmacy directors, community pharmacists, pharmacy school deans, students, and executives who represent pharmacists’ interests.

True to its roots, this inclusive event welcomes all participants, including pharmacists who may be unsure of how they can contribute in meaningful ways. Pharmacy advocate Dennise Wiesner, RPh, offers an encouraging view: “Regardless of what you may or may not think, talking about your personal experiences is easy and comfortable, and you do have the expertise to participate in this event and meet with your policymakers. What you take away from these meetings could be more important than what you leave behind.”

Pharmacists interested in registering should visit the RxIMPACT Web site for more information.

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