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Pharmacy on 'front line' of health care, NACDS tells Senate
May 16th, 2012
ALEXANDRIA, Va. – Community pharmacies are at the forefront of the nation's health care delivery system and play a pivotal role in mitigating medical costs and improving health outcomes, the National Association of Chain Drug Stores told a Senate committee.
NACDS said it submitted a statement to the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee on Tuesday to underscore the chain drug industry's commitment to working with policymakers to make high-quality health care more affordable.
The comments were for committee hearing titled "Identifying Opportunities for Health Care Delivery System Reform: Lessons from the Front Line."
In its remarks, NACDS highlighted community pharmacies' use of medication therapy management (MTM) to improve patient health and lower their health care costs.
"Community retail pharmacies are at the front line in the health care system, interacting with patients on a daily basis," NACDS stated. "Community pharmacists are uniquely qualified through their comprehensive education and training to significantly reduce the problem of poor medication adherence. We are convinced that MTM is a key way to vastly improve health outcomes and reduce costs by ensuring that individuals receive the maximum health benefit from their prescription medicine."
NACDS also stressed the importance of efforts to expand the ability of pharmacists to administer vaccines in the Medicare Part D program and to spur the use of lower-cost generic drugs.
"Currently, all 50 states allow pharmacists to provide certain immunizations. Encouraging Medicare beneficiaries and others to obtain vaccinations at their neighborhood pharmacy is a cost-effective and convenient way to prevent illness and reduce healthcare costs," NACDS noted in its statement. "Pharmacies have long promoted generic drugs as safe, cost-effective alternatives for many patients. Community pharmacy has a higher rate of generic dispensing — 73% — than any other practice setting."
In other news Wednesday, NACDS hailed recommendations released by the independent Community Preventive Services Task Force showing that team-based care can improve blood pressure control for patients. The studies cited pharmacists as critical in the collaborative approach to patient care by health professionals.
"When pharmacists were added to teams, the median improvement in the proportion of patients with controlled blood pressure was considerably higher than the overall median increase for this outcome," the findings concluded, according to NACDS. The evidence was based on the findings of 77 studies of team-based care organized primarily with nurses and pharmacists working in tandem with primary care providers, patients and other professionals.
The report also found that health team members complement the role of the primary care provider by having the team support and share duties for hypertension care, such as medication management, patient follow-up, and helping the patient adhere to their blood pressure control plan, including health behavior change.
"We are pleased with the recommendations by the Community Preventive Services Task Force," NACDS president and chief executive officer Steve Anderson said in a statement. "Collaboration of health care professionals — including community pharmacists — is a key component of helping to improve patient care."