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NCPA hails 'pharmacy choice' legislation in Hawaii
July 9th, 2013
ALEXANDRIA, Va. – Hawaii has enacted two new measures that will give the state's residents more choice of where to fill their prescriptions and additional medical privacy protections, according to the National Community Pharmacists Association.
NCPA said Tuesday that Gov. Neil Abercrombie (D.) has signed into law two pharmacy-related pieces of legislation, HB 65 and HB 62, that were unanimously passed by the Hawaii House and Senate.
HB 65 enables many patients to have their prescriptions filled at one of Hawaii's independent pharmacies or another pharmacy, instead of being required to use mail order pharmacies, NCPA noted.
The legislation requires that a qualified retail pharmacy that requests to enter into a contractual network agreement be considered part of a pharmacy benefit manager's retail pharmacy network "for purposes of a beneficiary's right to choose where to purchase covered prescription drugs." It also requires that a prescription drug benefit plan or PBM allow beneficiaries to fill any covered prescription that may be obtained by mail order at any pharmacy of the beneficiary's choice within the retail pharmacy network.
"The legislature finds that many pharmacy benefit managers and other prescription drug benefit plan providers impose certain requirements, including the requirement for beneficiaries to purchase prescription drugs from a mail order pharmacy," HB 65 states. "Furthermore, many beneficiaries, especially senior citizens, trust and rely on face-to-face interactions with their local pharmacists, who are more familiar with a beneficiary's medical history and who can better assist with any questions relating to other prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, or potentially dangerous drug interactions.
"Mandating prescription drug purchases by mail order denies beneficiaries of this important interaction, takes away consumer choice and can create hardships for beneficiaries," the legislation reads. "Accordingly, the legislature concludes that beneficiaries should have the choice to purchase prescription drugs from a mail order pharmacy or a local retail pharmacy."
Meanwhile, NCPA said that HB 62 is aimed at restricting the ability of PBMs to use patients' private medical information as a marketing tool to steer them into "preferred pharmacy" plans affiliated with the PBM.
"Pharmacy benefit managers often use a patient's prescription drug claims information to directly market to that patient the services of a preferred pharmacy provider that is owned by the pharmacy benefit manager," HB 62 states. "The legislature further finds that the practice of pharmacy benefit managers sharing a patient's prescription claims information with their partially or wholly owned subsidiaries, for the purpose of marketing, without the patient's express consent is a breach of the patient's right to privacy.
"The purpose of this act is to prohibit pharmacy benefit managers, or their partially or wholly owned subsidiaries, from using a patient's medical health information to market or advertise to that patient the services of a preferred pharmacy network that is owned by the pharmacy benefit manager, without the express consent of the patient," the law reads.
NCPA added that Hawaii follows Pennsylvania and New York as states that have recently enacted laws giving patients more freedom from mandatory mail order requirements.
"NCPA appreciates the overwhelming support Hawaii's elected officials have shown for this pro-patient, pro-pharmacist, pro-local economy legislation. We congratulate the community pharmacists whose grassroots efforts made this accomplishment possible and NCPA was proud to work closely with them in supporting these bills," NCPA chief executive officer B. Douglas Hoey said in a statement.
Hoey noted that some patients may prefer mail-order pharmacies and that option remains available under Hawaii's new law.
"However, mail order is not for everyone," he stated. "Many consumers report problems with mail order, which is also associated with medication waste. Patients should have the right to choose which pharmacy they prefer for their personal health needs. Independent community pharmacies offer face-to-face medication counseling and other pharmacy services. They are also pillars of their communities and an important source of jobs and local revenue."