WVPA Pharmacy Update: October 18

The pain management and opioid policies advanced by the National Association of Chain Drug Stores (NACDS) can help guide the federal government’s action plan to prevent and treat opioid addiction, NACDS has told the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). CMS is developing an action plan to prevent opioid addiction, as called for by the SUPPORT Act enacted in 2018.

McKesson leads investment in community pharmacy ownership. McKesson and NCPA will sponsor its tenth annual Ownership Workshop series to cultivate community pharmacy ownership, October 24-26.

Local pharmacies pushed to brink by pharmacy benefit “monopolies.” Around 58% of independent pharmacies say they may close their doors in the next ten years, and the main culprits are multi-billion-dollar corporate middlemen who are shaking them down for fees on medicines long after the point of sale, says NCPA.

The nation’s three largest drug distributors and two manufacturers have agreed with multiple states on a framework to resolve thousands of opioid cases with a settlement worth nearly $50 billion in cash and addiction treatments. The agreement would release AmerisourceBergen, Cardinal Health and McKesson which together distribute about 90 percent of the country’s medicine.

A preliminary analysis from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office showed House Speaker Nancy Polosi’s proposed prescription drug price cuts would save Medicare $345 billion over 10 years…BUT those savings wouldn’t begin until 2023, assuming her bill get passed.

Employers are feeling the pressure of high drug costs, particularly as spending on high-cost biologics continue to represent a significant share of spending despite comprising a relatively small portion of total prescriptions. Drug spending is expected to keep rising alongside the dominance of specialty drugs.

Retail pharmacy employment is to stay stagnant in next decade, according to economists. Although the demand for pharmacists is expected to increase in a variety of health care settings, the employment of pharmacists is projected to decline overall. Specifically, in retail pharmacy, sales will be affected by the increase in the use of mail order and online pharmacies.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that pharmacist employment at retail, mail and specialty pharmacies is projected to drop by -5.1% by 2028. This decrease will mainly affect chain and independent pharmacies, which are predicted to employ approximately 11,000 fewer pharmacists.

In addition, it is projected that pharmacy technicians will be taking a greater role in pharmacy operations and will complete tasks that are usually done by pharmacists, such as preparing more types of medications and verifying the work of other technicians.