NACDS chief declares medication adherence a pharmacy priority

June 15, 2010

The continuing debate over healthcare reform keeps the subject of medication adherence in the public eye. For pharmacy, says NACDS, the issue is a top priority.

Key Points

NACDS had sent a notice to the local media. We suggested that patients might have a lot of questions about what to do if they were low on their medications and would be worried about snow preventing them from driving to the pharmacy anytime soon. The CBS affiliate found the story interesting and gave NACDS the opportunity to answer these questions on the air.

This is just one example of NACDS' concerted effort to raise awareness of the importance of taking the right medications in the right ways - medication adherence. NACDS has resolved that pharmacy will own this issue.

We are committed to this decidedly proactive approach. There has been much wringing of hands and gnashing of teeth about pharmacy's track record of speaking only to itself about pharmacy's value, while not providing sufficient reason for government, payers, other providers, the media, and others to give pharmacy a second thought.

There is substantial evidence that we are reversing public ignorance of pharmacy's role in healthcare. Part of this success stems from the growing realization that the costs of poor medication adherence cannot be ignored.

NACDS made this case aggressively during Congress' debate on healthcare reform. NACDS emphasized the findings of the New England Healthcare Institute (NEHI) that poor medication adherence imposes $290 billion in annual costs, or approximately 13% of healthcare expenditures. Congress took notice and took action.

The new healthcare reform law includes key pharmacy provisions advocated by NACDS. These provisions include:

The common denominator underlying these issues is the importance of the accessibility and expertise of pharmacy in helping to improve the long-term health of patients and of the healthcare delivery system.

NACDS knew that this debate would present a tremendous opportunity for pharmacy to tell its story to Congress and the Obama Administration. Pharmacy can be confident that it is not missing the chance of a lifetime. We are making real progress, and delivering real results.

Healthcare reform definitely is not over. This issue now moves to the regulatory phase, during which NACDS will need to remain vigilant and continue to advocate for policy that is pro-patient and pro-pharmacy. But the progress pharmacy has made is undeniable.

This progress is not accidental. It flows from a determination to tell pharmacy's story. It is that determination which will help pharmacy come in from the cold - even in the middle of a historic snowstorm.

Steven C. Anderson is president and chief executive officer of the National Association of Chain Drug Stores.

The opinions expressed by guest editorial writers are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Drug Topics' staff or the staff of Advanstar Communications.