Applauding an advance on a key policy front for retail pharmacy, the National Association of Chain Drug Stores and the National Community Pharmacists Association have endorsed the Medication Therapy Management Empowerment Act of 2011.

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New MTM legislation hailed by NACDS, NCPA

February 3rd, 2011

ALEXANDRIA, Va. – Applauding an advance on a key policy front for retail pharmacy, the National Association of Chain Drug Stores and the National Community Pharmacists Association have endorsed the Medication Therapy Management Empowerment Act of 2011.

NACDS and NCPA said the Medication Therapy Management Empowerment Act of 2011, introduced Thursday by Sen. Kay Hagan (D., N.C.), builds on progress made in earlier legislation supporting medication therapy management (MTM). The original co-sponsors of the new MTM bill are Sens. Al Franken (D., Minn.), Sherrod Brown (D., Ohio) and Tim Johnson (D., S.D.).

"NACDS appreciates the leadership and commitment of Sen. Hagan and the support of Sens. Franken, Brown and Johnson in introducing this pro-patient, pro-pharmacy bill today," NACDS president and chief executive officer Steve Anderson said in a statement. "Neighborhood pharmacies can provide MTM services to help patients manage their health, especially for those patients who suffer from chronic diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, asthma or other conditions. This commonsense legislation can help patients understand the importance of taking their medications as prescribed, which can lead to improved health as well as lowering their health care costs."

A professional service offered by pharmacists and other health practitioners, MTM helps ensure medications are taken correctly, which in turn prevents higher-cost and preventable forms of treatment, NACDS and NCPA noted. The pharmacy groups noted that Congress created the MTM benefit under the Medicare Modernization Act of 2003 for Medicare beneficiaries by requiring MTM services for patients on multiple medications suffering from chronic conditions or diseases.

"Patients rely on their trusted, community pharmacists for expert medication counseling and cost-saving services. Nowhere is that truer than with MTM," NCPA executive vice president and CEO Kathleen Jaeger stated. "With health care expenses rising and our country's changing demographics, cost-effective services like MTM are needed now more than ever. We commend these senators for their leadership in introducing this legislation, just weeks into the 112th Congress. We encourage all senators and representatives to back this legislation and look forward to the grassroots engagement of patients and local pharmacists in support of this bill."

NACDS and NCPA reported that just half of Americans follow their prescription drug regimen. The two groups cited a July 2009 report by the New England Health Institute estimating that the overall cost of poor medication adherence — measured in otherwise avoidable medical spending — runs as much as $290 billion per year, or 13% of the nation's total health care expenditures.

Those costs include increased hospitalizations, doctor and emergency room visits, as well as factors related to preventable disease progression. MTM enables pharmacists to work with patients to review, monitor and identify problems with their medications and to coordinate with a doctor to address any problems.

Early last month, CVS Caremark Corp. unveiled the results of a study underscoring the value of medication adherence. The research found that patients who take medications as doctors direct may save the health care system as much as $7,800 per patient annually.

Analyzing annual pharmacy and medical costs over a three-year period for patients with one or more of four chronic diseases, the CVS Caremark study revealed reductions in emergency department visits and in-patient hospital days from medication adherence and, as a result, there were substantial savings in overall health care costs.

And in another study announced in January, researchers from CVS Caremark, Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women's Hospital found that patients with complex therapies are struggling to stay on their medication regimens. Specifically, the research found that patients with chronic heart disease are likely to have multiple doctors and take nearly a dozen medications filled in at least two different pharmacies — making it difficult for many patients to keep their medications straight. The research concluded that the health care system must find ways to help patients simplify, synchronize, centralize and organize their medication management.