Pennsylvania's Expansion of Pharmacists' Role Promises to Improve Health, Reduce Costs
NACDS hails victory for "collaborative drug therapy management"
Alexandria, VA - The National Association of Chain Drug Stores (NACDS) today praised a new law in Pennsylvania that will allow more patients to benefit from the vast medication knowledge and training of pharmacists. NACDS, which advocated for the now-enacted legislation, praised the efforts of the Pennsylvania Association of Chain Drug Stores and the Pennsylvania Pharmacists Association which led to this important victory.
The law will create opportunities for collaborative drug therapy management - essentially pro-patient teamwork between physicians and pharmacists - to occur in the community setting. Previously, it only was permitted in institutional settings like hospitals and nursing homes. Collaborative drug therapy management involves written agreements between physicians and pharmacists that allow pharmacists to put their accessibility, training and unique skill set to work for patients.
Pennsylvania State Rep. Deberah L. Kula (D-52) sponsored the legislation, H.B. 1041. The Pennsylvania Senate and House of Representatives passed the bill in May, and Gov. Edward G. Rendell (D) signed it into law on June 1.
"With the enactment of this legislation, Pennsylvania has said ‘yes' to improving the health and lives of patients, and to reducing overall healthcare costs," said NACDS President and CEO Steven C. Anderson, IOM, CAE. "This new law recognizes the expertise of pharmacists, the accessibility of community pharmacy, and the ability of pharmacists to help patients properly manage their health conditions for the wellbeing of patients and for the good of society."
Collaborative drug therapy management builds on the concept of medication therapy management, which involves consultations between patients and pharmacists designed to ensure the right medications are taken correctly, to improve health outcomes and help prevent adverse events such as harmful drug interactions.
Importantly, collaborative drug therapy management may occur only with the approval of the patient and with appropriate privacy protections, and the physician remains in control by virtue of the terms of the agreement and the pharmacist's reporting to the physician of all interactions with the patient.
Helping patients take the right medications in the right ways, which is referred to as "medication adherence," is vital for health and cost-effectiveness. A July 2009 report by the New England Health Institute estimated that the overall cost of poor medication adherence, measured in otherwise avoidable medical spending, is as much as $290 billion per year, or 13 percent of total healthcare expenditures.
Meanwhile, studies have shown that increased utilization of pharmacy-patient consultations about medications can reduce healthcare costs. For example, a study of MTM programs with 186 patients through Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Minnesota found reductions in healthcare costs per person of 31.5%, from $11,965 to $8,197. Interestingly, prescription claims increased 19.7%. The total cost of the MTM services was an estimated $49,490, but total healthcare expenditures for all patients were reduced by 31.5%, from $2,225,540 to $1,524,703. The return on investment was $12.15 per $1.00 of MTM services provided.
"NACDS emphasizes that pharmacy is the face of neighborhood healthcare. That statement reflects the truth of today and the promise of tomorrow. With this new law, Pennsylvania has taken important step toward maximizing the potential of pharmacy for the good of patients," Anderson said.
Pennsylvania is the 33rd state to allow collaborative drug therapy management in the community setting. Nine states allow it in institutional settings only, and 8 do not allow it at all.
The National Association of Chain Drug Stores (NACDS) represents 154 traditional drug stores, supermarkets, and mass merchants with pharmacies - from regional chains with four stores to national companies. NACDS members also include more than 900 pharmacy and front-end suppliers, and over 70 international members from 24 countries. Chains operate 37,000 pharmacies, and employ more than 2.5 million employees, including 118,000 full-time pharmacists. They fill more than 2.5 billion prescriptions annually, which is more than 72 percent of annual prescriptions in the United States. The total economic impact of all retail stores with pharmacies transcends their $815 billion in annual sales. Every $1 spent in these stores creates a ripple effect of $3.82 in other industries, for a total economic impact of $3.11 trillion, equal to 26 percent of GDP. For more information about NACDS, visit www.NACDS.org.
Pharmacies. The face of neighborhood healthcare.
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National Assoc. of Chain Drug Stores, 413 North Lee Street, Alexandria, VA 22314 United States