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 other Friday.

Mr. President, we can help you lower prescription drug costs | NCPA Executive Update | July 20, 2018

by NCPA | Jul 20, 2018

Dear Colleague,

Doug Hoey

NCPA contacted the Trump administration this week with information that didn't have anything to do with Russia but had everything to do with how pharmacists can help lower prescription drug costs for consumers.

In May, the president and Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar held a press conference in the White House Rose Garden announcing their "blueprint" to lower drug prices for Americans. That blueprint contained several concepts and questions and came with a request for interested parties to provide information.

NCPA and its members definitely qualify as interested parties when it comes to lowering prescription drug prices for consumers – who more than a community pharmacy owner knows about both the effectiveness of medications and the cost of those prescriptions to the consumer?

NCPA's response to the questions posed by the Trump administration offered input on several issues but first and foremost, we urged the administration to eliminate all pharmacy DIR fees. At a minimum, NCPA asked that CMS require in its upcoming 2020 Part D rule that all pharmacy price concessions be included at point of sale. "A rule of this stature would demonstrate this administration's dedication to meaningfully address rising prescription drug costs for beneficiaries," we stated.

In the Rose Garden press conference, the president specifically called out pharmacy benefit manager middlemen, saying they had become very, very rich and had contributed to the higher costs of prescription drugs at the expense of consumers and taxpayers. The last time a sitting president talked about pharmacy in a Rose Garden, the ceremony had a tone that was 180 degrees different. That was President George W. Bush announcing the new Medicare Part D benefit that would be managed by PBMs. After nearly 15 years of the fox guarding the henhouse, it was gratifying to hear this administration at least acknowledge that perhaps taxpayers are not getting the best value for our dollars.

NCPA didn't just send correspondence in response to the HHS request for information. We also garnered support from more than 150 other pharmacy stakeholders urging the elimination of DIR fees or at least ending retroactive pharmacy clawbacks. Check and see which organizations you recognize on the letter. Chances are you will find quite a few of your trading partners. We also asked NCPA membership to send comments to HHS and provided the mechanism to make it convenient to weigh-in with their thoughts. Over 2,000 pharmacy owners and operators responded! That's a phenomenal number of responses and is just one indicator how big of an issue this is to pharmacies.

There's more, but some of those things are still in motion. Stay tuned.

The comment period closed on Monday. Now, HHS will sift through the thousands of comments and decide which path it will take to fulfill the president's campaign promise to lower prescription drug prices. NCPA has made clear how community pharmacists can help.

Doug Hoey

P. S. Help us tell the community pharmacy story to lawmakers, regulators, the media and patients by taking just a few minutes to complete our 2018 Community Pharmacy Impact Census. It's a quick survey – no need for financial records or other documents. Take the survey on your phone, tablet or computer, but do it today. We appreciate your participation.