NACDS outlines role of pharmacy in patient care to Senate committee

ALEXANDRIA, Va. — The National Association of Chain Drug Stores announced Thursday that it has submitted comments to the U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging outlining the value of the pharmacist-patient interaction in helping improve health and reduce costs in the Medicare program, and urged the committee to support the Medication Therapy Management Empowerment Act of 2011, which seeks to increase access to pharmacy services for Medicare beneficiaries.

NACDS submitted its comments in conjunction with the committee's hearing, titled "A Prescription for Savings: Reducing Drug Costs to Medicare."

"Pharmacists play a key role in helping patients take their medications as prescribed and offer a variety of pharmacist-delivered services, such as medication therapy management, to improve quality and outcomes while reducing overall costs at the same time," NACDS stated in its comments. "Community pharmacists are uniquely qualified through their comprehensive education and training to significantly reduce the problem of poor medication adherence."

"As medication-use experts, pharmacists assist patients in achieving positive outcomes from their medication therapy. Pharmacists help patients every day by counseling on proper use of medications, checking for possible side effects, drug interactions or allergies, and helping to coordinate insurance benefits," NACDS added.

In the letter, NACDS also pressed the committee to support the Medication Therapy Management Empowerment Act of 2011 (S. 274), which seeks to increase access to pharmacy services for Medicare beneficiaries. The comments also outlined how increasing the use of generic medications can promote cost savings in the Medicare program.

"Increasing the rate at which generic pharmaceuticals are substituted for their brand-name equivalents or other brand-name drugs within the same drug classes is a cost-effective way of achieving Medicare Part D savings," NACDS stated in its comments. "By providing medication therapy management, increasing medication adherence, and promoting and increasing the use of generic medications, pharmacies and pharmacists continue to increase the healthcare quality and outcomes for Part D beneficiaries, while at the same time reducing overall program costs," the comments concluded.