Pharmacists prescribe healthcare fix

Community pharmacists don’t plan on standing behind the counter and just letting healthcare reform happen to them. The National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA) announced on Tuesday a nine-week grassroots lobbying campaign to make sure the pharmacist perspective is part of the debate.

The effort will concentrate on 20 lawmakers on the four key House and Senate committees. About 3,500 NCPA members plan to make weekly calls and send weekly e-mails to the members and their staffs.

Their bottom line is that pharmacists should take on a larger role in determining the drugs patients receive. That would save the healthcare system money, the association contends, by avoiding the costs of treating adverse drug effects.

The NCPA also wants Congress to regulate pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs), which the association says have put in place a “Byzantine, secretive drug payment system” to produce enormous profits. Pharmacists and PBMs, which run the drug benefits for private health insurance plans and private Medicare plans, are bitter political rivals.