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ARLINGTON, Va. — Community pharmacy is an important healthcare partner in providing cost-saving solutions within the healthcare system by helping to improve medication adherence, administering vaccinations and increasing the use of generic drugs. That was a key message of a statement sent by the National Association of Chain Drug Stores to Budget Committee conferees of the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate.
“As Congress works to address the nation’s budget deficit, NACDS and our members offer our support for developing effective solutions to reduce healthcare costs, while at the same time maintaining patient access to prescription drugs and pharmacy services,” NACDS said in its letter to the committees.
Pharmacy services such as medication therapy management can improve adherence, creating better health outcomes and lower costs. Reports by the Congressional Budget Office and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, as well as a recent article in Health Affairs found that appropriate medication use can in fact improve health while lowering costs.
These findings have helped increase recognition by lawmakers about the value of MTM, including bipartisan support for U.S. House and U.S. Senate bills, the Medication Therapy Management Empowerment Act of 2013 (H.R. 1024 and S. 557, respectively). The House bill currently has 149 cosponsors and the Senate bill has 30 cosponsors.
NACDS also emphasized that pharmacies have played an integral role in recent years in providing vaccinations and immunizations against illnesses such as flu, pneumonia, and shingles. In addition to helping patients stay healthy, encouraging Medicare patients and others to obtain vaccinations at their neighborhood pharmacy is a cost-effective and convenient way to help prevent illness and reduce healthcare costs. The Department of Defense cites cost-savings of nearly $1.5 million by expanding the portfolio of vaccines that Tricare patients may obtain from community pharmacies.
In its statement, NACDS also emphasized the benefits of increased utilization of generic drugs.
“Pharmacies have long promoted generic drugs as safe, cost-effective alternatives for many patients. Increasing the use of generic drugs in public programs, such as Medicare and Medicaid, is one of the most effective ways to reduce prescription drug costs. For every one percent increase in generic utilization, the Medicaid program could save $558 million,” NACDS stated in the letter.
“As the face of neighborhood healthcare, community pharmacies and pharmacists provide access to prescription medications and over-the-counter products, as well as cost-effective health services such as immunizations and disease screenings. Through personal interactions with patients, face-to-face consultations and convenient access to preventive care services, local pharmacists are helping to shape the healthcare delivery system of tomorrow – in partnership with doctors, nurses and others,” NACDS stated in the letter.