Panel Discussion Encourages Community Pharmacists to Get Active About the Issues


Only a small portion of pharmacists are politically involved.

Pharmacists who are passionate about issues in the industry need to be active with their local politicians, according to a panel discussion held recently at ThoughtSpot 2017 in Las Vegas.

Headlining a list of advocacy-related events at ThoughtSpot, the panel focused on the current state of affairs in independent pharmacy and advised community pharmacists on how they can amplify their own voices and advocate on policy change for issues such as provider status and DIR fees.

U.S. Rep. Doug Collins (R-GA) discussed a bill he sponsored, HR1316, the Prescription Drug Price Transparency Act, which he believes will help empower community pharmacists. The Georgia representative had noticed independent pharmacies closing frequently within his district and was approached by a team of pharmacists — led by his own local, independent pharmacist – who saw the need for change in this area.

Rep. Collins was joined on the panel by Danny Cross, RPh, owner of Southwest Pharmacy and Advanced Medication and chairman of the New Mexico Pharmacy Business Council; National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA) CEO Doug Hoey, RPh, MBA; Beth Mitchell, Director of Government Affairs at AmerisourceBergen and Peter Kounelis, RPh, MBA, Vice President of the Elevate Provider Network at AmerisourceBergen.

Cross discussed his involvement with the New Mexico Pharmacists Association and the inspiration he received by working with independent pharmacists across the state, noting that they worked on a bill that regulates pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs).

“When I first moved to New Mexico, I read this article that taught me the importance of being involved,” Cross said. “So we got very active with the state association and I saw some really significant things that we were able to do in provider status for clinical pharmacies. I saw the changes in legislation that we were involved with, from immunizations and screenings [to other pieces of legislation] and it was great to be involved and see that you can make a difference.”

Hoey noted that only a small portion of pharmacists are politically involved. He pointed to Cross and his efforts as an example of how it is possible to achieve goals for your business when working together with others.

A closing remark by Mitchell summed up the discussion: “One thing that has really come out in the panel today is that persistence is absolutely key. We’ve been very persistent since 2004 in our Washington office and we will continue to do that for decades going forward.” Mitchell noted that AmerisourceBergen is a leader in industry advocacy for community pharmacy.

Mitchell expanded on the ways community pharmacists can work with their district legislator in creating a bill like the one discussed by Rep. Collins. She recommended that pharmacists invite a local politician into your pharmacy or ask them to sit down for a cup of coffee. Building a relationship, she believes, is the best way to make the voices of pharmacists heard. Via AmerisourceBergen’s office in Washington, D.C., Mitchell and her team advocate on behalf of pharmacists, helping them voice their opinions on legislation, ensuring the future of their businesses.

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