Pharmacy advocates from 41 states held more than 350 meetings with senators and representatives this week during the National Association of Chain Drug Stores RxImpact Day on Capitol Hill.

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RxImpact Day: Pharmacy gets heard on the Hill

March 23rd, 2012

ALEXANDRIA, Va. – Pharmacy advocates from 41 states held more than 350 meetings with senators and representatives this week during the National Association of Chain Drug Stores RxImpact Day on Capitol Hill.

NACDS said Thursday that association members, pharmacists, pharmacy students, chain pharmacy leaders and other community pharmacy supporters met with 86% of congressmen who serve on committees with jurisdiction on health care issues.

For RxImpact Day, industry advocates wore white coats and blue stickers on their lapels that said "Ask Me What Pharmacies Do!" to create an opportunity for lawmakers to find out more about how community pharmacies help patients maintain and improve their health, as well as rein in health care costs.

Participants urged lawmakers to write the Federal Trade Commission to express opposition to the merger deal of pharmacy benefit managers Express Scripts and Medco Health Solutions. Other issues discussed included increasing access to medication therapy management services, preserving pharmacy choice and access in the Tricare program, addressing PBM issues to improve patient care, and ensuring fair and adequate pharmacy reimbursement in federal health care programs.

NACDS noted that Sen. Mark Pryor (D., Ark.) offered remarks during an issue briefing and emphasized his support for community pharmacy as sponsor of the Pharmacy Competition and Consumer Choice Act (S. 1058). Pryor also received the NACDS Congressional Leadership Award in recognition of his commitment to pro-patient, pro-pharmacy policy, the association said.

In addition, Sen. John Tester (D., Mont.) and Reps. Mike Ross (D., Ark.) and Lee Terry (R., Neb.) submitted official comments to the Congressional Record in support of their constituents and community pharmacy in the lead-up to RxImpact Day.

Pharmacy advocates unable to attend the advocacy event in person participated in the RxImpact Virtual Hill Day, NACDS said. The Virtual Hill Day program generated more than 2,000 communications to over 270 members of Congress.

"The enthusiasm for this year’s NACDS RxImpact Day on Capitol Hill was astounding," NACDS president and chief executive officer Steve Anderson said in a statement. "This annual event,  now in its fourth year, built on the fantastic progress of the three great fly-in events that preceded it. The overwhelming support by pharmacy advocates — both in person in Washington, D.C., and via electronic communications from across the country — demonstrated the focus and urgency of telling the story of community pharmacy to lawmakers, drawing important distinctions on key pro-patient, pro-pharmacy issues."

Also during the RxImpact event, NACDS announced the recipients of the NACDS RxImpact "U" Advocacy Award, presented to pharmacy school students and pharmacy school campuses in honor of their active engagement in pro-patient and pro-pharmacy grassroots advocacy.

For 2012, NACDS selected Virginia Commonwealth University School of Pharmacy in Richmond, Va., led by students Catherine Floroff, Bradford McDaniel and Natalie Nguyen and faculty adviser Dr. Gary Matzke. These students demonstrated leadership in creating a student policy and advocacy forum, where they learned the process of advocating for pharmacy by engaging on the legislation affecting the profession.

More than 60 students and nine faculty members have been engaged in pharmacy advocacy through this VCU forum, which also served as a platform to organize student participation in Virginia Pharmacists Association's Legislative Day in Virginia's state capital, according to NACDS. At that event, the students educated lawmakers about the role of pharmacy in emerging models of care. The VCU pharmacy students also provided health screenings to the legislators and their staff.

In recognition of the students' efforts, VCU will be presented a $2,500 stipend to fund future student advocacy initiatives, NACDS said.