News & Trends

Pharmacy Times, February 2011 Infectious Disease, Volume 77, Issue 2

2011 NACDS RXIMPACT Day Brings Pharmacists to Capitol Hill

The National Association of Chain Drug Stores (NACDS) is bringing pharmacy’s message about the importance of pharmacists in health care directly to Capitol Hill in the coming weeks as it is organizing 2011 RxIMPACT Day, now it in its third year. Set for March 9 to 10, 2011, this event provides a unique opportunity for pharmacists from across the country to visit face-to-face with their Congressional representatives and tell them how pharmacists can reduce health care costs through medication adherence.

“This event is designed to bring pharmacists in and develop relationships with their members of Congress, and importantly, to explain the impact of pharmacists on health in their states,” explained Paul Kelly, vice president of federal government affairs, NACDS. Registration for 2011 RxIMPACT Day is open to any member pharmacist, reflecting a “wide open policy” of NACDS, which hopes to encourage pharmacy owners, pharmacy school deans, chief executive officers, and student pharmacists, among other segments of the profession, to participate in Washington, DC, in early March.

The previous years of the event saw pharmacists visiting with their representatives in groups of 5 or 6, with a team leader in place to guide the meetings. These “advocates” will be briefed before attending these scheduled meetings to discuss issues and concerns of the profession as well as tell their personal stories. According to Heidi Ecker, director of advocacy and grassroots, NACDS, RxIMPACT Day has 3 core components that make it unique in lobbying efforts— the educational component strives to prepare participants to understand the purpose of the meetings and the process; the advocacy component outlines the core issues that affect pharmacy today; and the mentoring concept, the team leadership that NACDS organizes, makes this experience a unique and valuable one for the participants.

For students, an RxIMPACT Academy also helps educate them about the policy process and the power they have in developing health policy and a role for pharmacy. This takes place the day before RxIMPACT Day on Capitol Hill. For information about the academy as well as 2011 RxIMPACT Day registration and details, visit or call Heidi Ecker at 703-837-4121.

105 Million US Adults Have Diabetes or Prediabetes

Nearly 26 million Americans have diabetes and 79 million have prediabetes according to new estimates by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The updated figures were published in January in the CDC’s National Diabetes Fact Sheet for 2011.

Among adults 20 years and older, 11.3% have diabetes and 35% have prediabetes, the CDC reported. Of those who have the disease, 27% are undiagnosed. Experts say the numbers call for structured diabetes prevention and management programs that emphasize physical activity and nutrition.

“These distressing numbers show how important it is to prevent type 2 diabetes and to help those who have diabetes manage the disease to prevent serious complications such as kidney failure and blindness,” said Ann Albright, PhD, RD, director of the CDC’s Division of Diabetes Translation.

Although the numbers continue to grow, some explanations for the increases suggest a silver lining. For example, better diabetes management has enabled diabetes patients to live longer lives with reduced complications—resulting in an overall rise in the national prevalence of diabetes.

Providers have also begun using hemoglobin A1c as a diagnostic test, which could skew the numbers higher. Still, the CDC noted that diabetes is undeniably on the rise and could affect 1 in 3 adults by 2050, if current trends continue.

To view the 2011 Diabetes Fact Sheet, visit

Pharmacy Techs Seek Certification in Droves

As pharmacy schools experience record enrollment, the number of pharmacy technicians seeking certification has also surged, according to an announcement by the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB).

PTCB reported in January that more than 55,000 candidates took the Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam (PTCE) in 2010. This influx will be critical in the coming years as the pharmacist’s role expands to include duties related to direct patient care and medication therapy management, the board noted.

“PTCB-certified pharmacy technicians will continue to be relied upon to keep pharmacy operations running smoothly,” PTCB said in a statement. To meet that demand, technicians will also be expected to have national certification, formal training, and solid job experience.

Although requirements vary by state, a growing number of states require pharmacy technicians to earn their certification. The Bureau of Labor Statistics expects employment of pharmacy technicians to increase by 31% by 2018, with certified candidates in high demand.

PTCB’s Chair Thomas E. Menighan, BSPharm, MBA, FAPhA, added that the evolving US health care system “calls for qualified support personnel that will enable pharmacists to provide patientcentered care with authority and autonomy.” Menighan also serves as chief executive officer of the American Pharmacists Association.

“PTCB’s certification program not only assesses technicians’ knowledge up front, but also requires ongoing commitment to the profession by requiring technicians to maintain certification through continuing education,” he said.