As Congress mulls health reform package, NACDS cites patient adherence, pharmacy

7/10/2009

ALEXANDRIA, Va. In two separate, high-profile events this week, the National Association of Chain Drug Stores promoted the major role pharmacy can play in helping patients adhere to their medication regimens and achieve successful therapeutic results.

The abysmal record for patient compliance with prescription drug therapy is a huge challenge to the U.S. healthcare system, two NACDS leaders pointed out this week in Washington and Florida. And as Congress mulls a massive overhaul of that system, lawmakers need to recognize the importance of patient adherence and the need for adequately reimbursed pharmacists who can work with patients to improve compliance and therapeutic outcomes, they asserted.

Making those points were NACDS president and CEO Steven Anderson and Carol Kelly, the group’s SVP government affairs and public policy, who spoke to Congressional leaders at an event in the nation’s capitol.

Addressing the Florida Pharmacy Association Annual Meeting, Anderson noted that poor adherence imposes $177 billion annually in direct and indirect costs, including preventable emergency room visits, treatment of chronic conditions and lost productivity.

“Ours is an industry and profession of highly technical issues and concepts, of jargon and acronyms. We cannot expect members of Congress – who need to focus on many, many issues – to be 100-percent fluent in the language of pharmacy,” Anderson told Florida pharmacists. “But for the health of patients, for the vitality and even survival of pharmacy, and for the sustainability of the healthcare system, they must know at least one word. And that is adherence. We must take it upon ourselves to tell the story of pharmacy’s direct role in improving it – and in improving healthcare quality, access and affordability with it.”

In Washington, Kelly addressed the Ripon Society, a non-profit, public policy advocacy group. She urged pro-patient, pro-pharmacy policy in healthcare reform legislation this year, citing fair Medicaid reimbursement for pharmacy and the need to expand access to medication therapy management.

Community pharmacy, Kelly told the group, is “the face of neighborhood health care and a primary source of health care for many Americans, especially in rural and inner city areas.”

NACDS, said Anderson, “will continue to urge lawmakers to advance pro-patient, pro-pharmacy policies that advance pharmacy and the patients they serve.”

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