Community Pharmacy Fairness Act Of 2009 Introduced In House, USA

February 28, 2009 at 12:00 pm Leave a comment


In an effort to permit community pharmacies to negotiate fairer contracts that benefit their patients, Reps. Anthony Weiner (D-NY) and Jerry Moran (R-KS) have introduced H.R. 1204, the Community Pharmacy Fairness Act of 2009. They are joined by 32 other bipartisan original sponsors. The bill helps level the playing field between more than 23,000 community pharmacies and the multi-billion dollar pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) that administer the prescription drug plans by creating a narrow exemption to current antitrust law.



“Current law prevents community pharmacists from having the same leverage as large chains in negotiating the terms of their contracts with PBMs,” said NCPA Executive Vice President and CEO, Bruce T. Roberts, RPh. “As a result community pharmacies are given the Hobson’s Choice of signing unfair contracts that don’t benefit patients, or lose their patients altogether. That is why we applaud Congressmen Anthony Weiner and Jerry Moran for introducing the Community Pharmacy Fairness Act of 2009, and we urge the House Judiciary Committee to take action on the bill and hope the Senate will also introduce a companion bill soon.”



Currently, independent community pharmacies are offered take-it-or-leave-it contracts by the PBMs. Giant PBMs have voiced concern over allowing pharmacies to negotiate for fear of losing the PBMs’ monopoly over these small businesses that allows them to dictate terms and create windfall profits for their shareholders. If pharmacies were allowed to enter into negotiations, they could have a chance of enacting terms in contracts that could:



— Protect patients from shrinking and shifting formularies that confuse and restrict a patient’s treatment options (formularies are the lists of drugs that are covered for specific groups in a health insurance plan)




— Reduce the pre-authorization hassles to obtain refills or formulary-restricted medications that generate red tape and create hurdles for patients trying to obtain their medications




— Limit the switching of patients to higher-cost medications that may not be better for them therapeutically, but that earn higher brand-name drug rebates for the PBM



The bill also reflects the changes that were made when the previous version this bill was voted out of the House Judiciary Committee last year:



— Limit pharmacy negotiating pools to 25 percent of market share in a Medicare Part D region




— Definition of independent pharmacy is less than 10 percent of market share of a PDP region and less than 1 percent of market share of the United States




— 5-year sunset clause from the bill’s passage




— Government Accountability Office study six months before sunset to examine the impact



“Community pharmacists deliver many valuable services, but our number one priority is being patient advocates,” said NCPA President and Seattle, Washington pharmacy owner Holly Henry, RPh. “Unfortunately PBMs undermine that priority by subjecting community pharmacy owners to onerous and inflexible contract terms, along with low reimbursement rates. H.R. 1204 gives us the ability to cater to our patents’ needs by restoring a business model that puts each of the respective parties on some semblance of equal footing when negotiating contracts.”



The other original sponsors are Representatives Robert Aderholt (R-AL), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Roscoe Bartlett (R-MD), Marion Berry (D-AR), Sanford Bishop (D-GA), Tim Bishop (D-NY), Charles Boustany (R-LA), Yvette Clarke (D-NY), Howard Coble (R-NC), Joe Courtney (D-CT), Elijah Cummings (D-MD), Steve Driehaus (D-OH), Sam Farr (D-CA), Ralph Hall (R-TX), Maurice Hinchey (D-NY), Ruben Hinjosa (D-TX), Tim Holden (D-PA), Walter Jones (R-NC), David Loebsack (D-IA), John McHugh (R-NY), Dennis Moore (D-KS), Patrick Murphy (D-PA), Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), Ron Paul (R-TX), Todd Platts (R-PA), Phil Roe (R-TN), Linda Sanchez (D-CA), Gene Taylor (D-MS), Lee Terry (R-NE), Peter Welch (D-VT)), and Charles Wilson (D-OH). It is also noteworthy that House Judiciary Committee Chair John Conyers (D-MI) is an original sponsor.



The National Community Pharmacists Association, founded in 1898, represents the nation’s community pharmacists, including the owners of more than 23,000 pharmacies. The nation’s independent pharmacies, independent pharmacy franchises, and independent chains dispense nearly half of the nation’s retail prescription medicines. To learn more go to http://www.ncpanet.org.

[Via http://www.medicalnewstoday.com]

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