Medicare reform has pharmacists readying to lobby

WASHINGTON: As Congress prepares to reform Medicare, a coalition of advocacy groups is looking to remind legislators of the vital role pharmacists play.

WASHINGTON: As Congress prepares to reform Medicare, a coalition of advocacy groups is looking to remind legislators of the vital role pharmacists play.

Groups such as the National Association of Chain Drug Stores (NACDS) and the American Public Health Association have been meeting with DC agencies about a possible campaign to position pharmacists as a necessary link in getting medications to seniors. The groups are all members of a coalition called Pharmacy Benefits All.

"We need to tell lawmakers that when they add a prescription-drug benefit to Medicare, it needs to keep pharmacists in the equation," said NACDS VP of media relations Crystal Wright. "Without pharmacists, the doctor-patient relationship breaks down," she added.

At issue is the rise in influence of pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs), which provide medications by mail through exclusive contracts with drug manufacturers. "All the bills that have come out in Congress so far have been PBM-centric," said Wright.

APCO Worldwide, Qorvis Communications, and Edelman have all been in the discussions.

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