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Maryland Pharmacists Urge House Majority Leader Hoyer to Put Patients First
Date:10/10/2007

Pharmacists ask Hoyer to fix flaws in Medicaid Generic Prescription Drug

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LA PLATA, Md., Oct. 10 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Today Maryland community pharmacy owners held a press conference at County Drug urging U.S. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) to bring H.R. 3140 -- Saving Our Community Pharmacies Act of 2007 -- to the House floor for a vote. The Medicaid generic prescription drug pharmacy reimbursement will take effect in early 2008, and if left alone threatens community pharmacy's economic viability, as well as patient access to pharmacy services.

"I have been a practicing pharmacist for 45 years, and have owned County Drug for fifteen," said Jon Johnson, owner of County Drug in La Plata. "I have always said that I don't have customers, I fill prescriptions and provide services for folks I consider friends. I am concerned that the Medicaid reimbursement formula threatens that relationship, and now that the government has the power to do the right thing, I know our congressman, Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, will make sure H.R. 3140 is taken up -- before it is too late."

In 2005, the Deficit Reduction Act cut Medicaid pharmacy services by over $8 billion, causing the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to create new rules for Medicaid generic reimbursement based on an Average Manufacturer Price (AMP) formula. A December 2006 Government Accountability Office report found that, on average, pharmacies would be paid 36 percent below their acquisition costs using this new formula, therefore forcing patients to seek services from expensive emergency rooms and doctors' offices.

H.R. 3140 defines the benchmark for pharmacy reimbursement to accurately reflect pharmacy acquisition costs; excludes all sales from mail order facilities and pharmacy benefit manager price concessions and rebates that are not provided to retail pharmacy; and includes provisions to drive generic utilization that would increase government savings.

"Who can stay in business at 36% below cost?" said Howard Schiff, executive director of the Maryland Pharmacists Association. "AMP does not properly measure retail acquisition costs; it includes sales prices that are unavailable to community pharmacies like County Drug here in La Plata. In Maryland there are 332 community pharmacies that ably provide patients with quality services -- services that are not often found in large chain and mail order pharmacies."

Marie Therese Oyalowo owner of ComCare Pharmacy in Bowie and David Houston, owner of Anchor Pharmacy in Waldorf were also in attendance to offer insight on how they expect their patients to be impacted.

To learn more about this issue go to: http://www.ncpanet.org/pdf/leg/hr_3140_factsheet.pdf.

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.


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SOURCE National Community Pharmacists Association
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