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URAC Seeks Public Comment on Standards for New Pharmacy Accreditation Programs

New pharmacy accreditation standards for Specialty Pharmacy, Workers Compensation and Mail Service Pharmacy

WASHINGTON, Jan. 24 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- URAC called for public comment today on three new pharmacy accreditation programs. The programs are Specialty Pharmacy, Mail Service Pharmacy and Pharmacy Benefit Management (PBM) for Workers Compensation and Property and Casualty. The new programs closely follow URAC's groundbreaking Pharmacy Benefit Management Accreditation standards released in July 2007, the only third-party, voluntary accreditation program for the pharmacy benefit management industry. URAC is seeking comments from a broad range of stakeholders, including employers, consumers, purchasers, providers, regulators, and the pharmacy benefits management industry. The deadline for public comment is March 6, 2008.

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The standards were developed by URAC's Pharmacy Benefits Management Advisory Committee, which includes a wide range of stakeholders: employers, consumers, pharmacy consultants, health plans, independent retail pharmacy, pharmacy benefits management organizations, pharmacy professional organizations, labor, and large public purchasing groups.

"These accreditation programs build on the success of URAC's initial Pharmacy Benefit Management program, bringing an emphasis on continuous quality improvement and on consumer education and empowerment to the industry," said Alan P. Spielman, URAC's president and chief executive officer. "We welcome and invite broad input from consumers, purchasers, providers, regulators, and the industry on the draft standards."

The Specialty Pharmacy and Mail Service Pharmacy accreditations are for organizations involved in the hands-on delivery of these pharmacy services. Specialty pharmacy organizations offer a high touch, comprehensive pharmacological care system, providing patients with chronic illnesses and complex disease states expert therapy management and support tailored to their individual needs. There are over 140 million specialty pharmacy prescriptions filled per year according to 2006 numbers (1). URAC's Specialty Pharmacy accreditation includes standards for Core Organizational Quality; Customer Service, Communications and Disclosures; Specialty Drug Management; Pharmacy Operations; and Patient Management.

According to data from the Lewin Group, spending for mail service pharmacy was estimated to reach $43 billion in 2007 (2). Mail service pharmacy is generally used by those who require maintenance medications for chronic conditions and prefer to receive their maintenance medications in supplies lasting longer than 30 days. Over the past decade, mail service pharmacies have represented the fastest growing distribution channel for prescription drugs.

URAC developed the Specialty Pharmacy and Mail Service Pharmacy accreditation program because they represent key distribution channels for pharmacy benefit management and they extend URAC's consumer protection and empowerment efforts in managed care pharmacy.

Nearly 15 percent of workers compensation medical expenses are for prescription drugs (3), and URAC's new pharmacy benefit management standards for Workers Compensation and Property and Casualty are designed specifically for this industry segment. The standards align with URAC's Pharmacy Benefit Management standards for health plans and pharmacy benefit management organizations. This accreditation is a natural extension of URAC's consumer protection and empowerment efforts in both the pharmacy benefit management and workers compensation markets.

"URAC accreditation standards for these organizations will provide common definitions and a uniform approach they can use to demonstrate value," said Robert L. Crocker, MD, chairman of URAC's Board of Directors and chief medical officer for American Specialty Health. "The standards drive organizations towards best practices and ensure that patient safety, consumer education, and empowerment are central to their operations."

The draft standards are available for review at Comments are welcome on any section of the draft standards. URAC prefers to receive comments through the online comment form available at For more information about submitting comments, contact URAC at 202-216-9010.

URAC will review all public comments and will then beta test the standards this spring. URAC anticipates the standards will be finalized and approved by its Board of Directors in July 2008.

About URAC

URAC, an independent, nonprofit organization, is well-known as a leader in promoting health care quality through its accreditation and certification programs. URAC offers a wide range of quality benchmarking programs and services that keep pace with the rapid changes in the health care system, and provide a symbol of excellence for organizations to validate their commitment to quality and accountability. Through its broad-based governance structure and an inclusive standards development process, URAC ensures that all stakeholders are represented in establishing meaningful quality measures for the entire health care industry. For more information, visit

(1) Atlantic Information Services, "Specialty Pharmacy: Stakeholders, Strategies, and Markets," 3rd Edition, 2007.

(2) "Mail Service Pharmacy and the Cost of Proposed Limitations in Medicare and the Commercial Sector," The Lewin Group, Sept. 2006, online at acy%20Savings%20&%20Cost%20Limitations%209-13-06%5B1%5D.pdf.

(3) Joe Paduda, principal and founder, Health Strategy Associates, referencing case study data he presented at 16th Annual Workers' Compensation and Disability Conference and Expo, Nov 2007.

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