NACDS, NCPA Urge Protecting Patient Choice of Pharmacy Amid Studies on Medication Adherence

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Alexandria, Va. - August 18, 2011

National Association of Chain Drug Stores (NACDS) President and CEO Steven C. Anderson, IOM, CAE and National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA) Executive Vice President and CEO B. Douglas Hoey, RPh, MBA today issued the following statement regarding two recent studies appearing in the Journal of Medical Economics (JME) and the American Journal of Managed Care (AJMC), regarding medication "adherence," or the proper use of medicine as prescribed by a physician:

"The AJMC study effectively counters the claims in a study published in the JME regarding the uses of mail order versus community pharmacies. Amid these studies, it is safe to say that we have at least one important takeaway lesson: The best way to promote proper adherence to medication and better health outcomes is by ensuring patients' access to the pharmacy of their choice. Despite repeated financial and other inducements encouraging mail order in Medicare Part D and other health plans, the vast majority of patients opt to continue to rely on their local, community pharmacist to help meet their health needs.

"It's important to remember that adherence is about more than simply mailing a 90-day supply of prescription medication to a patient. Possession of prescription drugs alone is not the only factor in measuring adherence. For the full patient health picture, one must take into account whether that medication was actually taken as prescribed, if the patient had an adverse reaction, or if the prescriber stopped or changed the dosage of that medication based on the patient's need.

"If any of these factors occur, it not only impacts adherence, but also cost. If a medication is not used properly, then the potential for cost-savings is lost if additional medication, medical tests or even catastrophic and emergency care are needed by a patient, further disrupting patients' lives and driving up healthcare costs.

"This is also why it is vital to recognize that drug costs cannot be viewed in a vacuum. Pharmacy services need to be evaluated in terms of their overall ability to bring down healthcare costs across the board and improve patient health. Pharmacists provide counseling services, medication therapy management and other services that must be considered in any comprehensive cost-benefit analysis.

"The true story of improved medication adherence is the unsurpassed value of community pharmacy and the services it provides. There is no substitute for the pharmacist-patient face-to-face relationship. Community pharmacy services help to improve patient health and lower overall healthcare costs. Maintaining patient choice of how to obtain prescription medications is essential."

The National Association of Chain Drug Stores (NACDS) represents traditional drug stores, supermarkets, and mass merchants with pharmacies—from regional chains with four stores to national companies. Chains operate 39,000 pharmacies, and employ more than 2.7 million employees, including 118,000 full-time pharmacists. They fill nearly 2.6 billion prescriptions annually, which is more than 72 percent of annual prescriptions in the United States. The total economic impact of all retail stores with pharmacies transcends their $830 billion in annual sales. Every $1 spent in these stores creates a ripple effect of $1.96 in other industries, for a total economic impact of $1.57 trillion, equal to 11 percent of GDP. NACDS represents 137 chains that operate these pharmacies in neighborhoods across America, and NACDS members also include more than 900 pharmacy and consumer packaged goods suppliers and service providers, and over 60 international members from 23 countries. For more information about NACDS, visit www.NACDS.org.

The National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA®) represents the interests of America's community pharmacists, including the owners of more than 23,000 independent community pharmacies, pharmacy franchises, and chains. Together they represent a $93 billion health-care marketplace, have more than 315,000 employees including 62,400 pharmacists, and dispense over 41% of all retail prescriptions. To learn more go to www.ncpanet.org or read NCPA's blog, The Dose, at http://ncpanet.wordpress.com.

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