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Visante study says safety standard exemptions could raise prescription costs

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A new study conducted by the health research firm Visante for the Pharmaceutical Care Management Association (PCMA) reports that legislation to exempt drugstores from certain safety and performance standards could raise patient safety concerns and, according to the study, could increase prescription drug costs by $392 million in 2015 and $6 billion over the next decade.

From allergy medications to arthritis medications Americans, especially senior citizens, depend on pharmacy medication to help them live with degenerative illnesses as well as headaches and toothaches and other maladies. An increase in pharmaceutical costs not only threatens budgets already stretched to the limit in one of the worst economics in recent history; moreover, the cost increases could shorten the lifespan of Americans who need various prescription drugs to survive.

A recent summit in Atlanta addressed the need to fight prescription drug abuse; however, there are many prescription drugs which offer no effect other than to relieve high blood pressure or joint pain. These drugs are not taken to achieve any type of high. The prescription drugs are ordered by doctors to combat degenerative conditions.

The legislation PCMA is concerned about would eliminate public and private health plans' ability to utilize mail-service and specialty pharmacies to effectively avoid medication errors, promote generics, improve adherence, and administer biologic medicines that can be injected or delivered intravenously. A recent national survey of physicians who prescribe specialty medications found that just 5% believe that all drugstores "have the expertise and capability to provide the different types of specialty medications to patients."

"New, more complex medicines come to market every day and not all drugstores are equipped to safely administer every one of them. Forcing plans to ignore this basic reality puts patients at risk and raises premiums," said PCMA President and CEO Mark Merritt.

If enacted, the legislation could increase prescription drug costs and related medical costs in New York by up to $392 million in 2015. Over 10 years, the estimated cost could be $6 billion, according to the study.

The legislation purposed in New York could raise costs and undermine care in New York by exempting retail pharmacies from meeting standards related to credentialing, drug utilization evaluation activities, clinical prior authorization, quality-of-care reviews, and formulary compliance, PCMA reports.

As Congress continues to seek ways to combat the misuse of prescription drugs it is hoped that there will not be any attempt to undermine price concessions currently offered by mail-service and specialty pharmacies and result in higher costs. Congressman Hal Rogers is leading the fight in Congress to stop prescription drug abuse. However, Rogers is focused on the illegal use of prescription drugs and prescription drugs that are not being used as prescribed by a physician.

PCMA represents the America's pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs), which improve affordability and quality of care through the use of electronic prescribing (e-prescribing), generic alternatives, mail-service pharmacies, and other innovative tools for 216 million Americans.

For more information on the summit to fight prescription drug abuse go to: http://nationalrxdrugabusesummit.org.

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