Pharmacy industry leaders say health care reform will form the backdrop of whatever course the sector takes in 2010.
As the nation awaits a final bill, the industry must address a host of issues, ranging from medication adherence, e-prescribing and pharmacy reimbursement to drug safety, financial challenges in pharmaceutical research, and new regulation. Here's what leaders of 13 industry groups had to say about what's up ahead for 2010.
NEW YORK — Pharmacy industry leaders say health care reform will form the backdrop of whatever course the sector takes in 2010.
Indeed, as the Obama administration approaches the end of its first year in office, health care reform heads the president’s domestic agenda. While early on sweeping reforms to the nation’s health care system were expected, compromises in Congress between the House of Representatives and the Senate have since dampened those expectations somewhat.
Still, pharmacy advocates say the bill that is expected to be signed by the president early this year will help move the system forward and provide several benefits for community pharmacies across the country.
The advocates also see renewed research and development efforts in 2010, leading to new therapies that could improve patients’ lives.
Chain Drug Review recently asked leaders of 13 industry organizations what they see up ahead for 2010. Here are some excerpts of their comments on a variety of topics:
HEALTH CARE REFORM
"Throughout this process and amid the upcoming 2010 congressional election cycle, NACDS will continue to uphold the role that pharmacy plays in providing accessible, affordable and quality health care services to patients. To achieve this focus, pharmacy must continue to champion public policy issues, demonstrate its value as a health care provider and play a key role in opportunities to help in the prevention of disease and illness." — Steve Anderson, president and CEO, National Association of Chain Drug Stores (NACDS)
"On the pharmacy side, the need for our products and services will continue to grow. If health care reform works as advertised, it will end the national scandal of 46 million uninsured Americans and countless unwritten prescriptions. In addition, the first baby boomers become eligible for Medicare Part D in 2011. Then, for the next 18 years, some 10,000 of them a day will join that queue. But the predicted explosion in the number of Part D recipients highlights the growing role of the federal government in the business of pharmacy, regardless of whether the final version of health care reform legislation contains some form of government-run or government-backed public insurance option." — Bruce Roberts, executive VP and CEO, National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA)
"During the yearlong debate, we made hundreds of Capitol Hill visits and delivered multiple other communications to assure that pharmacists’ services were part of any health care reform package. … APhA stayed focused on pharmacists’ services and the medication therapy management message, while not getting dragged into the debate over financing or public options. Our health care reform efforts were aimed at making Congress and the Obama administration aware of the medication use crisis in America. And we helped them understand that pharmacists are the perfect solution to many of these challenges." — Tom Menighan, executive VP and CEO, American Pharmacists Association (APhA)
"CHPA is working to help preserve over-the-counter eligibility in flexible spending and health savings accounts. Congressional efforts to fund health care reform have put continued O-T-C eligibility in these accounts in jeopardy. CHPA will continue to press for O-T-C eligibility in these cost-effective accounts." — Linda Suydam, president, Consumer Healthcare Products Association (CHPA)
"The economic downturn wrought substantial changes across most industries, and ours was no exception. The economy triggered mergers and acquisitions across the supply chain. It changed not just the makeup of the distribution industry but also the way HDMA delivers value to its members. The changing economy prompted executives across the industry to scrutinize their operations and strategies, and find ways to better deliver value for their customers." — John Gray, president and CEO, Healthcare Distribution Management Association (HDMA)
"Congressional action is still needed for a long-term fix to the [average manufacturer price] formula to ensure that Medicaid fully covers pharmacy drug dispensing costs. … As [health care reform] legislation advances, it will be essential to develop a system that encourages the dispensing of cost-saving generic medications and provides Medicaid patients with the level of pharmacy access they need and deserve. Although pending legislation makes important improvements to the AMP formula, additional changes are needed to ensure that it accurately approximates all dispensing costs." — Leslie Sarasin, president and CEO, Food Marketing Institute (FMI)
"Modernizing community pharmacy’s funding model has become a matter of urgency as the profession’s role changes and community pharmacy evolves from solely a transaction-based business model to a service-based model." — Nadine Saby, president and CEO, Canadian Association of Chain Drug Stores (CACDS)
RESEARCH & DEVELOPMENT
"Health care reform is critical because we need to do more to help every American have access to high-quality, affordable health care coverage and services, and at the same time, we must ensure that reform helps preserve and extend the environment and incentives needed to inspire the litany of medical innovations that have made the United States the envy of the world. … Looking ahead, biopharmaceutical research companies are committed to making an enormous investment in R&D despite the difficult economic situation." — Billy Tauzin, president and CEO, Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA)
"The ongoing financial crisis has left many biotech companies unable to access the investment capital that they need to continue work on promising therapies. That has led dozens of companies to shelve or delay promising projects, lay off workers and, in some cases, close their doors for good. … Despite the current economic challenges, the long-term prospects for biotech remain strong. Our companies continue to innovate at a breathtaking pace, developing medicines that are providing hope where there once was none as well as new tools to allow for more personalized and effective care." — James Greenwood, president, Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO)
"The point of comparative effectiveness research (CER) is to ensure that health care providers and patients have the best evidence or information available to them about various treatment options. With that information in hand, health care providers and the patient can discuss the best available and most appropriate treatments for the patient’s condition. … It is a positive development for the president and health care stakeholders to be talking about the importance of CER in health care reform." — Dan Leonard, president, National Pharmaceutical Council (NPC)
"Carve-out laws place a significant and unnecessary burden on the nation’s pharmacies. A typical carve-out bill requires pharmacists to obtain additional consent from the prescriber prior to the dispensing of a generic drug. It will also result in patients waiting longer for needed, affordable medicines. In the 2008/2009 state legislative sessions, 64 carve-out bills were introduced in 26 states. Thanks to the efforts of the National Generic Carve-Out Coalition, which includes the NACDS and GPhA, none of the bills was enacted into law. … 2010 promises to be another very challenging year with respect to carve-out legislation." — Kathleen Jaeger, president and CEO, Generic Pharmaceutical Association (GPhA)
"While our drug supply is considered to be the safest in the world, a number of episodes in recent years have shown that parts of the supply system can be compromised, and thus need to be strengthened. … Adulteration is a formidable and very real threat that exists not only in developing countries but in the U.S. and other developed nations as well. In our continuing efforts, USP will seek input of all segments of the industry. We also will continue to grow our international cooperation, which is key to combating such episodes." — Roger Williams, executive VP and CEO, U.S. Pharmacopeia (USP)
"Electronic prescribing promises a system that is faster, cheaper and safer. E-prescribing eliminates time-consuming processes at every step, from the prescriber to the pharmacy to the patient. … E-prescribing offers invaluable clinical decision support by preventing dangerous medication errors due to contraindications and allergies. Also significant, e-prescribing bolsters use of appropriate generic alternatives and assures formulary compliance." — Lee Ann Stember, president, National Council for Prescription Drug Programs (NCPDP)
*Editor’s Note: To read the full 2010 Pharmacy Outlook and more executive comments, please see the January 4, 2010, print issue of Chain Drug Review.