NCPA Executive Update

NCPA Executive Update delivers insights on legislative, regulatory, policy, and industry developments from NCPA CEO B. Douglas Hoey, Pharmacist, MBA, to NCPA members and pharmacy leaders every Friday.

Rx Drugs Catch Trump's Eye | NCPA Executive Update | January 13, 2017

by NCPA | Jan 13, 2017

Dear Colleague,

Doug Hoey

If you are the type of person who doesn't care for politics, then 2016 was a rough year for you. On the other hand, if you are a political junkie, then you must be loving 2017!

The news cycle for the first two weeks has been dominated by speculation about positions President-elect Trump, his administration, the Republican Congress, and the Democrats will be taking. If you are a cable news talking head, business is booming right now!

Policy positions on health care have been dominated by the Affordable Care Act (ACA), but a couple of days ago the President-elect forcefully articulated this position on drug pricing:

"We have to get our drug industry coming back. Our drug industry has been disastrous. They're leaving left and right. They supply our drugs but they don't make them here, to a large extent. And the other thing we have to do is create new bidding procedures for the drug industry, because they're getting away with murder."

--President-elect Donald Trump, January 10, 2017

Candidate Trump had expressed his concerns about drug pricing while campaigning, but it certainly wasn't as dominant a theme as it was for candidate Clinton. In fact, despite the sector losing an estimated $24.6 billion in market cap after Trump's comments this week, overall the sector is still up nearly 9% since the election, according to Fortune magazine.

We think that the way prescription drug costs are currently managed in the U.S. is backward. Pharmacists, the only providers who are experts on the way medications work and how much they cost, largely have their hands tied to help lower costs. And, PBMs, which are hired to keep drug costs down, make more money when drug prices go up. It's backward!

NCPA said as much in correspondence to President-elect Trump this week. Our letter asked the Administration to first take out the waste in the system and that new models that can lower prescription drug costs: ". . . we believe there are simpler, more transparent, and more economical ways to administer the important prescription benefit Americans need to get and stay healthy."

NCPA also sent a letter to key members of Congress as they consider ACA replacement package ideas to warn them of possible unintended consequences if/when the ACA is repealed and also to suggest solutions. For example, you may recall several years ago that NCPA and NACDS won a temporary restraining order that stopped the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services from moving forward with the way it was implementing average manufacturer's price (AMP) in the Medicaid program. Without that court order, thousands of pharmacies would likely have closed their doors.

We then worked with Congress to refine Medicaid reimbursement using AMP, which was passed as part of the massive ACA. That improved AMP approach could be in jeopardy if ACA is repealed without precision.

Pharmacists have much to offer to help make sure our country is getting the most bang for its buck from prescription drugs and to lower overall health care costs. We wound down our letter to the President-elect with these words:

"Our interests are to help citizens get the best value from their hard-earned dollars and allowing pharmacy small businesses to better serve the people in their communities. Independent community pharmacists can help solve drug problems, ensure appropriate medication use, and stretch prescription dollars farther."

Doug Hoey

P.S. The NCPA Congressional Pharmacy Fly-In has a new and different format this year. It's a true fly-in: Fly (or drive) to D.C., NCPA briefs you on the issues, meet with your elected representatives, and then get back to your business and family. We've dropped the registration fee so you save both time and $$$. More on this to come. Save the dates for April 26-27.