NCPA's Blog - The Dose

The Dose
  • 'Alice in Wonderland' Drug Pricing

    Aug 07, 2017

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    Note to subscribers: This will be the last blog post update you receive as a subscriber to The Dose. We will still provide great commentary here on our blog, but for updates about future new posts on The Dose and other trending community pharmacy topics, please subscribe to our new Monday through Thursday newsletter, NCPA's qAM.

    A patient wants a lower-cost generic prescription drug. The patient's doctor agrees. But the pharmacy benefit manager (PBM) may have other ideas.

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  • Another Pro-PBM Study Makes Outlandish Claims Based on Dubious Data

    Jul 18, 2017

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    While consumers and health plan sponsors continue to pay higher costs for prescription medications, the PBM lobby recently released another study predicting huge savings in Medicare Part D over the next 10 years thanks to PBMs. However, upon closer scrutiny, these claims appear dubious at best. The Dose addressed a similar PBM-funded study in December. As with that study, the most recent example, conducted by Oliver Wyman and commissioned by the Glover Park Group on behalf of the Coalition for Affordable Prescription Drugs (which appears to be closely aligned with the PBMs), similarly relies on questionable assumptions to draw its conclusions.

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  • Independent Pharmacists Initiate Grassroots Action on DIRs

    Jul 13, 2017

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    When it comes to advocacy, NCPA can't match the financial resources of the PBMs. According to Open Secrets, a website that tracks political and lobbying expenditures, last year CVS Health, the parent company of Caremark, spent $6,018,247 on lobbying, Express Scripts spent $2,703,000, and the Pharmaceutical Care Management Association (PCMA), the trade association for PBMs, spent $2,728,160—a total of $11,449,407. NCPA, by comparison, spent $1.38 million.

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  • A Productive Year for Community Pharmacy…And It's Only July

    Jul 11, 2017

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    So far, 2017 has been a productive year for community pharmacists. Community pharmacy champions in Congress introduced three bills so far to address NCPA's top legislative concerns: banning retroactive pharmacy DIR fees; increasing transparency and oversight of MAC pricing in federal health programs by PBMs; and improving pharmacy choice for seniors under Medicare Part D (learn more about each bill here).

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  • ICYMI: 7 June PBM Stories You Need to Read

    Jul 06, 2017

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    Because we know you're busy, NCPA decided to recap some of the top reporting we found about PBM practices in June:


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  • PBMs' Cost Savings Skills in Specialty? Maybe Not So Special.

    Jun 02, 2017

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    When it comes to the spin that pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) produce about their so-called cost savings, one often has to read between the lines to determine the truth.

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  • PBM Arguments Don't Hold Up to Scrutiny

    Apr 25, 2017

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    The national trade group for pharmacy benefit manager (PBM) corporations has predictably come out in opposition to the prescription drug and PBM transparency legislation that NCPA and its allies will champion at the NCPA Congressional Pharmacy Fly-In and throughout the 115th Congress. Yet many of the anti-transparency PBM arguments unravel upon closer examination.

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  • More Misleading Information From the PBM Lobby

    Apr 03, 2017

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    As evidence continues to mount that retroactive "DIR" fees can have an adverse impact on taxpayers and beneficiaries of Medicare prescription drug plans, the pharmacy benefit manager (PBM) lobby is grasping at straws to prevent the enactment of the Improving Transparency and Accuracy in Medicare Part D Drug Spending Act, (S. 413/H.R. 1038). This bipartisan and common sense approach would bring some degree of transparency on how "DIR" fees are calculated and assessed.

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  • NCPA Members Helping to Correct the Record

    Mar 31, 2017

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    NCPA's communications team works to dispel misconceptions about pharmacists in the media. But in the relentless 24-hour news cycle, it can be hard to keep up. That's why we welcome our members alerting us to something they heard or read that needs to be addressed.

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  • More Bad News for PBMs: Another Report Suggests They Contribute to Higher Drug Prices

    Mar 28, 2017

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    A recent report by the American Consumer Institute (ACI) is the latest to take aim at PBMs for their role in increasing prescription drug costs. ACI's ConsmerGram entitled "Pharmacy Benefit Managers: Market Power and Lack of Transparency" makes a compelling case that the lack of transparency in PBM operations contribute to higher drug costs for patients and plan sponsors and also negatively impact retail pharmacies, particularly independent pharmacies.

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  • Another Reporter Turns Up the Heat on PBMS

    Mar 17, 2017

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    The success of pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) comes from floating below the public's radar and framing a narrative about how much money they supposedly save the system. Independent community pharmacies' strategic efforts to rein in these drug middlemen occasionally get a welcome boost from investigative journalism.

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  • MYTH/FACT on PBM Arguments Against Bipartisan MAC Legislation

    Mar 13, 2017

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    The lights are growing brighter and hotter on pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) which prefer to operate in anonymity. Bloomberg, local TV stations and many other news outlets are examining the PBMs' contributions to rising prescription drug costs. Perhaps this growing pressure has reached a breaking point as evidenced by the recent and highly deceptive PBM reaction to bipartisan generic drug pricing legislation concerning MACs. (MACs, or maximum allowable costs, are proprietary PBM formula for reimbursing pharmacies for dispensing generic drugs.)

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  • 3 Reasons Why USP Supports Pharmacist Health Care Provider Status Legislation

    Feb 28, 2017

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    NCPA is pleased to cross-post this blog piece from USP CEO Ronald T. Piervincenzi, Ph.D., noting why the organization supports provider status. Read the piece on the USP website here.

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  • Ever Wondered What Politicians and Pharmacists Have in Common?

    Feb 22, 2017

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    My first rotation of 2017 started out at the National Community Pharmacists Association. I expected NCPA would be involved with community pharmacy but didn't expect that it would be so deeply involved with government policymakers. As a fourth year student about to transition into the practice setting, being aware of current health care issues and polices is fundamental. During my first week, I began interviewing the staff members to learn about their experiences. Given the unique path that they each took to land at the same destination, I realized early on that I was about to embark upon a very diverse learning experience.

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  • Learning More About Strategic Initiatives and Government Affairs

    Feb 22, 2017

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    As a student pharmacist at Roseman University of Health Sciences in South Jordan, Utah, I was an active member in our NCPA Student Chapter, serving as the Chapter Historian. Now in my final year of pharmacy school, I had the opportunity for a rotation at NCPA based on my interest in association management. Over the course of six weeks, I gained a thorough understanding of association management, but more than that, I have a solid foundation of the goals and values NCPA represents.

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  • Congress Should Explore Patient Access and Outcomes in Confirmation Hearings for Medicare Chief

    Feb 15, 2017

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    The upcoming hearing by the Senate Finance committee to vet the nomination of Seema Verma to be administrator of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is perhaps the most important non-cabinet level confirmation hearing the Senate will hold. The Trump Administration and Congressional leaders have laid out a robust health care agenda for the current Congress, and many of these policies would have an effect, either directly or indirectly, on patient access to affordable prescription medications, which would ultimately fall on CMS to implement.

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  • States Should Empower RPhs to Do More for Medicaid Patients

    Feb 10, 2017

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    Medicaid is encouraging states to be flexible by expanding pharmacists' scope of practice so they can provide additional prescription drug and patient care services to beneficiaries. This is yet another sign of the growing momentum to permit pharmacists, who are still underutilized in their capacity as clinically trained, accessible medication experts, do more for patients. Pending legislation in Congress would recognize pharmacists as health care providers under Medicare Part B, which would allow them to be compensated for medication therapy management, patient education, and chronic diseases management services. A number of states have enacted their own provider status legislation.

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  • Backstage Pass: If It Ain't Broke...Oh Wait.

    Jan 31, 2017

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    Editor's note: We are pleased to feature a new series of blog posts this year on The Dose from 2016-2017 NCPA President DeAnn Mullins, Pharmacist, CDE highlighting the changing health care landscape and what this means for community pharmacy. Join DeAnn as she takes you behind the scenes for an honest look at her experiences as NCPA President, pharmacy owner & Mom.

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  • 2016 NCPA Digest: A Roadmap for Independent Community Pharmacies

    Dec 12, 2016

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    Editor's Note: This post originally appeared on the Cardinal Health thought leadership website Essential Insights. NCPA cross-posted the commentary here as well.

    In today's hyper-competitive marketplace independent community pharmacy owners need every tool available to keep up with current trends and continue innovating. To that end, the National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA) publishes the annual NCPA Digest, sponsored by Cardinal Health. The 2016 NCPA Digest offers important findings about which every independent community pharmacy should take note.

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  • Prescription Drug Cost Savings Exist Outside of PBMs

    Dec 06, 2016

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    In the past several months, pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) have been under increased scrutiny over their contributions to rising prescription drug prices. A recent op-ed in STAT by NCPA CEO B. Douglas Hoey, chronicled PBM practices such as rebate pumping, copay clawbacks, and spread pricing that have been scrutinized by publications such as Business Insider and the Columbus Dispatch.

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