NACDS, NCPA: Ensuring patients' choice of pharmacy helps promote medication adherence

ALEXANDRIA, Va. — Prescription drug costs “cannot be viewed in a vacuum” and pharmacist-provided medication therapy management and counseling must be considered in any comprehensive cost-benefit analysis, the National Association of Chain Drug Stores and National Community Pharmacists Association urged in a joint statement issued on Thursday amid the release of two studies on medication adherence.

The statement, issued by NACDS president and CEO Steve Anderson and NCPA EVP and CEO Douglas Hoey, relates to two recent studies appearing in the Journal of Medical Economics and the American Journal of Managed Care on 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," the statement read. "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.”