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.

Too Many Meds? | NCPA Executive Update | August 18, 2017

by NCPA | Aug 18, 2017

Dear Colleague,

Doug Hoey

Consumer Reports, famous for its ratings of products and services, is putting pharmacists to the test. The front cover of the September issue (circulation 7 million print and digital subscriptions, not to mention those perused in grocery store checkout lines) is titled, "Too Many Meds?"

Consumer Reports includes pharmacies in its ratings every few years. It's also the magazine that said in a previous pharmacy ratings article, "Not surprisingly, customers at independents were much more likely than others to have discussed prescriptions with their pharmacist."

CRImportantly, the magazine has announced a National Check Your Meds Day for Oct. 21, 2017. This is a big deal for community pharmacies. Think of it as a national campaign to drive "brown bag" reviews into your pharmacy. CR is working with the Department of Health and Human Services to proclaim the Saturday following the NCPA Annual Convention as a day for consumers to bring all of their medications to the pharmacy for review. "Ask your local pharmacy if it's participating," Consumer Reports advises its readers. We also expect there to be media promoting the day to consumers.

NCPA has put together a fantastic toolkit for NCPA members to help you take advantage of this opportunity to attract new patients to your store and develop relationships with those consumers.

CR further reports, "A number of pharmacies—Albertson's, Costco, CVS, Sam's Club, Target, Walmart and many independents—have agreed to support the effort."

For some, efforts by a pharmacist to reduce the number of prescriptions a patient takes may seem counterintuitive. Those who are surprised don't know community pharmacists. One of the planks of NCPA's mission is: ". . .restoring, maintaining, and promoting the health and well-being of the public we serve."

We know that appropriately used prescription medications help keep people out of the hospital and help them live healthier lives. That's really the crux of our job as pharmacists—to be the medication expert on the health care team who helps patients optimize their medication use economically and clinically.

CR did a secret shopper survey of 45 pharmacies for insight on how easy it is to talk with pharmacists and to see how well they caught potentially dangerous drug-drug interactions. The secret shoppers were taking the following medications (no strengths were listed except for the low-dose aspirin):

    º HCTZ
    º Coumadin
    º Ambien
    º 81 mg ASA
    º Aleve PM

On the "plus" side, the potential interaction between Aleve, ASA, and Coumadin was caught 84% of the time.

videoOn the negative side, a classic interaction was missed in 16% of the conversations. I realize that taking ASA and warfarin together is not taboo as it once was; however, it still warrants the pharmacist probing more to check it out. CR went on to say that the duplicate therapy of the diphenhydramine in Aleve PM and Ambien was flagged even less often.

The big chains have said they are going to be a part of National Check Your Meds Day. In CR's last pharmacy survey, they said: "It can be particularly difficult in large stores to communicate with pharmacists, who are usually busy in the back, leaving technicians and clerks to serve customers." All the more opportunity for community pharmacy owners.

National Check Your Meds Day—that date again: October 21—is a great opportunity for the pharmacy profession to show our stuff. Start planning, preparing, and promoting now. Reach out to the NCPA student chapters at your nearby schools and colleges of pharmacy to help. Take advantage of the attention that will be generated by National Check Your Meds Day to bring attention and business to pharmacies that shine brightest—your community pharmacy.

Doug Hoey

P.S.—Polish your patient outreach skills for Check Your Meds Day by trading ideas with successful peers and learning new tips at some of our educational programming at the NCPA Annual Convention Oct. 14-18. You'll leave Orlando prepared for this special day—and more.