NCPA Hosts Tele-Conference to Discuss Importance of Pharmacists During COVID-19 Pandemic

More than 1800 members registered for the town hall-style meeting, during which Rep. Buddy Carter (R-GA), a pharmacist and congressman, briefed attendees about emergency relief efforts currently in development by policymakers, efforts to address pharmacy direct and indirect remuneration (DIR) fees, and other key issues.

The National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA) hosted a tele-conference on March 22, 2020, to discuss the latest developments in Washington, DC, as well as the association’s advocacy efforts surrounding community pharmacists during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.

More than 1800 members registered for the town hall-style meeting, during which Rep. Buddy Carter (R-GA), a pharmacist and congressman, briefed attendees about emergency relief efforts currently in development by policymakers, efforts to address pharmacy direct and indirect remuneration (DIR) fees, and other key issues.

Carter emphasized the importance of community pharmacists during this pandemic on the teleconference. “This is an opportunity for us to shine, an opportunity for people to really appreciate what we do day in and day out—and we all know that—but we have to continue to do it,” Carter said. “I know it’s tough right now. There’s a lot of stress and a lot of risk, but at the same time, we all know community pharmacists are the most accessible health care professionals out there, and people are dependent on us right now.”

Brian Caswell, president of NCPA and owner of Wolkar Pharmacy in Baxter Springs, KA, joined B. Douglas Hoey, MBA, CEO of NCPA, in reminding listeners to advocate on their behalf in support of relief from pharmacy DIR fees and pharmacy benefit manager regulation.

“Community pharmacies are on the front-line providing care and, in many rural and urban areas, are the only pharmacy patients have access to. We’re advocating aggressively for important changes pharmacies need so that there’s continued access. Changes like signature log waivers for deliveries, the elimination of pharmacy DIR fees, and reform to Medicaid managed care payments. Barriers like these must be removed so neighborhood pharmacies can keep serving and protecting their patients, whether during a crisis like we’re seeing now or otherwise,” Andrea Pivarunas, director of Public Affairs at NCPA, told Pharmacy Times®.

“I’m hearing so many stories of heroic acts from independent community pharmacies from across the United States. These stories make me really proud as a community pharmacy and it really does show our true colors as the pillars of society,” Caswell said in the teleconference.

Due to the amount of misinformation spread about COVID-19, Caswell reiterated the importance of those on the frontline to stay informed on the most updated information. He elaborated by telling those who have the opportunity to use their voice to become the “local expert in your community about this pandemic” through social media, television contacts, and newspapers.

REFERENCE

National Pharmacy Teleconference COVID-19. NCPA. March 22, 2020. http://www.ncpa.co/media/webinar/NCPA_03232020_FullCallRecording.WAV. Accessed March 26, 2020.