Amazon has officially launched Amazon Pharmacy, a move that industry experts, as well as local pharmacists have been expecting. Amazon Pharmacy, marketed as a ‘digital drug store’ will deliver prescription medications directly to consumers in a mail-order format; however Amazon Pharmacy will not be able to provide many of the healthcare services local pharmacies offer their patients.
In addition to filling prescriptions, community-based pharmacies serve as a central point in healthcare to provide medication management – where pharmacists identify potential adverse effects, prevent serious drug interactions, and recommend treatment or dose adjustments to prescribers. Local pharmacists routinely partner with prescribers to optimize patients’ medications for affordability and to ensure limited delay for patients in receiving important therapies and desired outcomes. Local brick and mortar pharmacies within West Virginia also provide immunizations, including the highly-anticipated COVID vaccine, and health screenings for chronic and acute conditions, such as high blood pressure and influenza. When a prescription is needed for an antibiotic or middle-of-the-night discharge medications from the emergency room, it will be live, local pharmacies that will serve West Virginia’s communities. In addition, the majority of local pharmacies already offer free prescription delivery and have implemented technology to ensure medications are easy to order, track and receive.
Although pharmacy benefits managers (PBMs) and the COVID-19 pandemic have put an increased strain on pharmacies, many in West Virginia have continued to expand the number of services they provide their patients. Because West Virginia pharmacies have already been competing with PBM-owned mail-order pharmacies, many know the most successful pharmacies will focus on delivery of value and patient care.
“In 2019, the West Virginia Legislature noticed an emergence of mail-order pharmacy operations. To protect patients and independent community pharmacies, the Legislature mandated that a pharmacy benefit manager’s (PBM’s) network must not be comprised only of mail-order benefits but must have a mix of mail-order benefits and physical stories in the state. This change protects access to the many health care services that trusted pharmacists provide to their patients in the Mountain State.”, explained West Virginia Independent Pharmacy Association Executive Director, Matt Walker.
West Virginia Pharmacist Association President, Katie Kacmarik, PharmD, stated, “West Virginians should not only be able to choose their pharmacy provider from which they receive care and prescriptions, but also strongly consider how having a ‘pharmacy home’ and a local pharmacist as a member of your healthcare team ensures you have a personal advocate for medications that are affordable, effective and appropriate for your specific needs. West Virginia pharmacists have been serving their communities without fail throughout the COVID-19 pandemic – and will be here, in your communities, through whatever the future may bring.”
The West Virginia Pharmacists Association and West Virginia Independent Pharmacy Association stands united in providing care for West Virginians through pharmacies and pharmacists in West Virginia. “We take care of our own. With the emergence of a shop local culture for everything, it is important to not forget your local pharmacies. Support your local pharmacies that employ your community members and provide consistent, accessible services year-round.”, commented WVPA Vice President, Matthew Rafa, PharmD.
The West Virginia Pharmacists Association is a statewide professional organization representing the interests of licensed pharmacists, pharmacy technicians, and student pharmacists with a mission to promote and assure the health and wellness of the public by enhancing the professional skills and knowledge of its members. For more information, visit www.wvpharmacy.org.
The West Virginia Independent Pharmacy Association was formed in 2016 to provide a unified voice for independent pharmacies in public policy discussions. WVIPA has an aggressive political agenda to protect independent pharmacies by educating state legislators, congressional leaders, and the public on the importance of independent pharmacies. For more information, visit www.wvipa.org.