Brief news of interests to pharmacists

National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA) officers met with U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services officials regarding DIR fees and how NCPA members can help the administration  reduce prescription drug prices and patient out-of-pocket costs.

Eighty-three (83) members of the House of Representatives wrote to HHS Secretary Alex Azar and urged him to move forward with a proposal that would effectively eliminate retroactive pharmacy DIR fees by requiring all pharmacy concessions be accounted for at the pharmacy counter.

Two pieces of legislation aimed at bringing greater transparency into pharmacy DIR fees and MAC pricing gained support with H.R. 1038,  which addresses retroactive pharmacy DIR fees, gaining 84 sponsors in the House of Representatives.

Current number of sponsors of all priority bills sought by pharmacy, including WVPA, are: Pharmacy DIR fees (S. 413) 15 Senators and (H.R. 1038) 84 Representatives; Generic drug pricing transparency – MAC legislation – (H.R. 1316) 55 Representatives; Pharmacy choice in Medicare Part D (S. 1044) 5 Senators and (H.R. 939) 34 Representatives; Provider status (S. 109) 53 Senators and (H.R. 592) 282 Representatives; and Compounding (H.R. 2871) 62 Representatives.

NCPA and NACDS recently sent a letter to CMS offering recommendations for measuring quality at the pharmacy level in the Part D program.  The suggestions focused on defining pharmacy quality within the Medicare Part D program, holding plans accountable for determining performance-based payments based on standardized, achievable and proven criteria that measure individual pharmacy performance, and bonusing/penalizing performance separate from the cost of the medication.

New data  shows how PBMs manipulate the drug pricing system to their benefit.  Among the findings: PBMs are reaping large Medicaid windfalls on generic drugs, not brand-name drugs and in numerous instances, after a brand-name drug loses patent protection and generics hop onto the scene, the costs of that drug decrease dramatically.  This is information that community pharmacy has experience for years, but this reporting is backed by hard data.

FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb issued a statement on the agency’s ongoing efforts to maintain safety and quality standards on compounded drugs.  He specifically called out topical pain creams as an example, noting that clinicians and patients may be unaware of the safety risks or lack of effectiveness with ingredients included in those creams that haven’t been approved for topical administration.

The Joint Commission released a proposal to revise the requirements in National Patient Safety Goal (NPSG) 03.05.01, Reducing Harm from Anticoagulant Therapy. The new and revised requirements address the use of the new direct oral anticoagulant ((DOAC) medications, and include drug selection, dosing and monitoring, bleeding reversal, perioperative management, and adverse drug events.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) has released a new online screening tool to help assess a patient’s risk for substance misuse and substance use disorder and assist healthcare providers with prevention and treatment.