Medication adherence: NACDS urges acknowledgment of pharmacists' role

November 15, 2010

As the nation rolls out the new healthcare reform law, the National Association of Chain Drug Stores is urging more recognition for the role of pharmacists in medication adherence.

As the nation rolls out the new healthcare reform law, the National Association of Chain Drug Stores (NACDS) is urging more recognition for the role of pharmacists in medication adherence.

Its new document, “Pharmacists: Improving Health, Reducing Costs,” which details the role of pharmacists in medication adherence and medication therapy management (MTM), can be downloaded free from the NACDS web site (www.nacds.org). It is being distributed to legislators, the media, and pharmacy schools.

“We have had quite a few meetings on Capitol Hill [recently] on medication adherence and the role that MTM therapy can play moving forward. We have some really excellent talking points [in the document],” said Steven Anderson, president and CEO of NACDS.

The document states that the overall cost of poor medication adherence is as much as $290 billion a year, or 13% of total healthcare expenditures, according to a 2009 report from the New England Healthcare Institute. However, pharmacists can greatly improve adherence statistics, because patients trust pharmacists and consider them to be the most accessible healthcare providers, the report stated. In fact, in a February 2010 poll conducted by the Charleston Research Co., pharmacists were deemed the “most trustworthy” source on health and medical research issues.

And according to the report, some MTM pilot projects are demonstrating how pharmacists influence medication adherence. A Blue Cross/Blue Shield MTM pilot project, for example, found average reductions in healthcare costs of 31.5% per patient.

While pharmacists have come a long way in terms of being recognized for their role in patient care, said Anderson, NACDS is working to pass legislation to get pharmacists more involved in MTM. To that end, the Medication Therapy Management Expanded Benefits Act has been introduced in both the House and Senate during this session of Congress. One important provision of the bill, according to NACDS, ensures that seniors can visit any pharmacy in their health plan’s network, as long as it agrees to participate.

“No matter what legislators think about healthcare and the current law, they are all interested in increasing access and controlling costs,” Anderson said.