Letter confronts editorial that misses the point on patient health and health care competition.
ARLINGTON, Va. – In a letter-to-the-editor, National Association of Chain Drug Stores (NACDS) President and CEO Steven Anderson took extremely strong issue with a recent Wall Street Journal editorial that ignored the unique role of pharmacies and pharmacists in patient health, medication safety, healthcare cost reduction and crisis response.
The newspaper referred to the pharmacy as a “needless middleman” – a point that Anderson confronted vigorously by detailing the trusted value that pharmacies deliver in the face of extreme barriers and often unfair and unsustainable reimbursement policies.
NACDS’ letter-to-the-editor appears here in its entirety:
The editorial “Letting the Docs Dispense” (June 11) overlooks the anti-competitive policies that hinder pharmacy patient care, as well as the unique value that pharmacies and pharmacists bring to the communities they serve.
Perhaps the most puzzling aspect of the editorial is that its search for a costly and anti-competitive actor landed in the wrong spot. Regarding medications, pharmacies are in the fight of their lives for fair reimbursement. Regulatory loopholes have created an unsustainable expectation that pharmacies will fill many prescriptions below-cost. Regarding other healthcare services, pharmacies and pharmacists routinely encounter stifling barriers that limit their ability to test for various conditions, to treat minor ailments, and to vaccinate more extensively. In fact, it is imperative to learn from the obstacles to pharmacist-provided COVID-19 testing, and to remove barriers now to pharmacist-provided COVID-19 treatments and vaccines so they can be deployed without delay when available.
Regarding value, pharmacists graduate with a doctor of pharmacy degree and are the highest-educated healthcare professionals on medication topics. Particularly with patients under the care of multiple doctors, pharmacists check for harmful drug interactions and help patients take their medications correctly. Pharmacists help patients navigate the insurance maze, and find solutions to keep patients on their medications during supply disruptions – including those related to pandemics or natural disasters.
As our national leaders and the media pursue solutions to help patients during the COVID-19 crisis, we need to address policies that support access to care for patients, including vital care provided in pharmacies.