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.

'We're not flying under the radar.' | NCPA Executive Update | April 13, 2018

by NCPA | Apr 13, 2018

Dear Colleague,

Doug Hoey

It's been an exciting, productive week here in Washington. Hundreds of pharmacy owners from all over the country came together for the 50th NCPA Congressional Pharmacy Summit, connecting with each other and members of Congress. Despite the challenges we face with onerous pharmacy DIR fees and oppressive PBM practices, there was incredible optimism.

I heard it a dozen times from our members coming back from their Hill visits – members of Congress reaffirming what we already knew (but it was nice to hear, anyway) – our message is getting through.

Community pharmacy is not flying under the radar.

Stories about "gag clauses" and how PBMs set drug prices on the NBC Nightly News, plus a flood of similar stories on TV stations across the country ... Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar's recent comments on the administration's plans to focus on PBMs as they explore drug pricing ... the Council of Economic Advisers calling out PBM domination of the market ...

We're not flying under the radar.

Three senators questioning PBM practices at a hearing of the Federal Trade Commission ... making inroads with CMS on point-of-sale DIR fees – we're not there yet, but we're closer than we've ever been. We can definitely see the results of our lobbying efforts. We're opening eyes all over Capitol Hill and beyond, and that's opening doors.

We're not flying under the radar.

We can all see the progress. We don't have to patiently explain what PBMs are and how they are contributing to the higher cost of prescription drugs. We've worked hard at making sure lawmakers and policymakers and the general public "get it." And we're seeing clear signs that they do. The momentum is there ... we just have to keep that bright light shining on the need to change how prescription drugs are reimbursed. We have to make sure that influencers understand how vital community pharmacy is to the health and wealth of a town or neighborhood. Our patients need us and the services we offer.

We're not flying under the radar.

One of our panelists said this week: "We hear what you say, and we're with you." Their patients and their families hear us too, and they're not keeping silent. John Schall, CEO of the Caregivers Action Network, told us that families who are trying to navigate finding the proper care for the elderly and disabled are shocked at the PBM chokehold on the market. "They're not just angry," Schall said. "They're torches-and-pitchforks angry." And this, from Vicki Cunningham of West Virginia Medicaid on PBMs: "We need to really understand that it's not a free market and it's not a level playing field."

We're going to keep doing what we're doing. The wound that PBMs have inflicted on health care is serious and needs constant pressure, and that's what we're here for.

We're not flying under the radar.

Hundreds of pharmacy owners on Capitol Hill helped make sure that we're on radars all across the country. While there is still much more work to be done, this is progress with a capital P, and it feels good.

Doug Hoey