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ALEXANDRI, Va. — In a letter penned Thursday by the National Association of Chain Drug Stores to Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, the association stated that while it shares the goal of reducing prescription drug costs, authorizing the reimportation of prescription medications — as sought in S.319, the Pharmaceutical Market Access and Drug Safety Act of 2011 — raises concerns about patient health and safety.
The bill seeks to authorize the reimportation of prescription medications and permits the implementation of a track-and-trace system for prescription drugs. The letter expressed pharmacy's commitment to improving patient health and lowering costs in a manner that protects patient health and safety, maintains a safe and secure drug distribution system and supply chain, and fosters communication between patients and pharmacists.
In addition to expressing concerns about patient health and safety, NACDS also highlighted issues surrounding the development of prescription drug track-and-trace system. "It is important to consider the complexities, technical and feasibility issues, and formidable costs for all drug supply chain stakeholders if such [track-and-trace] systems were mandated. These systems have not undergone pilot programs to test their reliability, scalability and address implementation and operational concerns," the letter read.
While expressing concerns with the legislation, NACDS emphasized common ground: the shared goal of improving patient health and reducing costs.
NACDS encouraged Congress to enact legislation that would advance pharmacist-provided medication therapy management services and increase generic utilization. "Instead of pursuing importation as a way to reduce drug expenditures, we urge the consideration of policies to support cost-saving alternatives, such as greater adoption of medication therapy management and increased generic utilization," the letter read.
Two such bills that seek to encourage greater adoption of pharmacist-provided MTM services are S. 274 and H.R. 891, which would expand MTM services to more Medicare beneficiaries.