MPhA News

Small Doses

May 5, 2017
Breaking News
News From MPhA
Minnesota News
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National News
MPhA Events
Did You Know?

Breaking News

The PBM Story

The National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA) has released a new resource that documents for policymakers, patients, and the media the discrepancy between what pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) say and the actual effect they have in driving up prescription drug prices in America. It’s called The PBM Story: What They Say, What They Do, and What Can Be Done About It, and it is available now for download on the NCPA website.

The PBM Story offers an overview of how PBMs got their start, how they morphed into money-making machines, how exactly they make that money, and the documented effect they’ve had – and continue to have – in increasing prescription drug costs. It closes with a prescription for curing what ails health care in America, starting with three pieces of legislation pending in Congress that would prohibit the most egregious, anti-consumer PBM practices.

“We’ve created this resource to help our members tell the real story of PBMs,” said NCPA CEO B. Douglas Hoey, RPh, MBA. “PBMs say they reduce drug prices and increase patient access, but the facts just don’t bear that out. This new resource sets the record straight. In it, we’ve scrupulously documented the facts about how PBMs contribute to higher drug costs and the need to address this problem utilizing community pharmacists.”

U.S. House Passes Health Care Overhaul Bill

From APhA's Pharmacy Today and other news sources: Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives passed a controversial bill to overhaul the nation's health care system on May 4. The American Health Care Act (H.R. 1628) received just one more vote than was needed for passage. The bill now goes to the U.S. Senate, where it is expected to undergo significant revisions.

The House bill would end the Affordable Care Act's (ACA) mandate that most individuals buy health insurance, and that larger employers must offer insurance to their employees. It would dismantle many of the taxes and subsidies in the ACA and replace them with tax credits. Among the more contentious provisions is one that would allow states to let insurers return to their old practice of charging more to customers with pre-existing medical conditions.

The National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA) issued a statement from CEO B. Douglas Hoey, RPh, MBA, in response to passage of the bill: "This vote marks the next step in a lengthy, multi-step process set forth by Republican Congressional leaders. As part of that, the Senate is expected to make substantial revisions to the legislation for it to have any chance of advancement.

"House Republicans considered and passed this legislation under a process that greatly limited what provisions and policies could be considered germane, excluding virtually any of interest to community pharmacies. Lawmakers intend to develop subsequent health care legislation to fill in the gaps. NCPA and its members will continue to engage lawmakers to champion priorities for community pharmacies during this process.

"We encourage community pharmacists to contact their Representative and Senators and reiterate the importance of our pro-patient, pro-pharmacist policies. These include maintaining prescription drug coverage and ensuring adequate pharmacy reimbursement for patient care as well as sufficient access to community pharmacies and bipartisan transparency provisions related to PBMs in federal exchange programs.

"NCPA has urged these common-sense policies to lawmakers. And NCPA will continue to advocate them on behalf of our members and the patients they serve."

News From MPhA

Moorhead Participates in MPhA Town Hall Event

Sarah Jastram, who helped organize our Town Hall Event in Moorhead, reports that of more than 100 people total, 14 people attended in Moorhead — a good turnout for this part of the state. Sarah says the networking hour was a good chance for many of the participants to reconnect with each other. “Our small conference hall in Moorhead was full of laughter and conversation. The presentation by Dr. Schullo-Feulner provided excellent information on pharmacists’ role in medication transitions and safety after an MI. Many of the participants enjoyed Dr. Schullo-Feulner's style and engagement with the audience, despite being at one of the remote locations. Overall, many people said they enjoyed their evening.”

Nominate a Friend or Colleague Today for MPhA Awards and Recognition

The Minnesota Pharmacists Association frequently hears of pharmacy professionals who go above and beyond the call of duty. Help us recognize these pharmacy leaders and inspirations by nominating a pharmacist or pharmacy technician for one of our awards. Nominations are now open.

Read the full award descriptions.
See a list of past recipients.

Nomination form(s) and letters of support must be submitted to the MPhA office by Friday, June 16.

Minnesota News

Julie Johnson to Retire June 30; Jason Varin Named as Interim Associate Dean

University of Minnesota College of Pharmacy Dean Marilyn Speedie has announced that Julie Johnson, associate dean for professional and external relations, will retire June 30. Julie joined the college in 2013, and helped develop and teach the Becoming a Pharmacist course, oversaw global and international programs, participated in legislative advocacy, and directed activities and programs related to alumni and professional associations.

Prior to her role at the college, Johnson served as the executive director for the Minnesota Pharmacists Association and as a community pharmacist, including as a pharmacist owner of Blomberg Pharmacy in St. Paul. During her 35-year career, she also developed and taught courses at the college and served as a preceptor and mentor for students.

Starting July 1, Jason Varin will assume the associate dean position on an interim basis, and maintain his position as director of alumni relations. He will continue to work closely with PER colleagues Bruce Benson, Jessica Ward-Denison and Vicki Everett. Dean Speedie anticipates that Dean Welage will launch a search for the permanent associate dean later this year.

WCCO-TV Interviews Dr. Stephen Schondelmeyer about Prescription Costs

A story published by WCCO-TV on May 2 looks at how consumers can find the best prices on prescription medications. Reporter Liz Collin tested two websites that claim to help consumers pay less for medications. University of Minnesota Professor (and MPhA member) Stephen Schondelmeyer was interviewed for the story.

WCCO-TV noted that Dr. Schondelmeyer has been studying the rising cost of prescription drugs for decades. While Dr. Schondelmeyer tells patients that it’s never a bad idea to look around for a better deal — but he believes that savings found on many websites are exaggerated. “Sometimes things are too good to be true,” he cautioned. Read/view the full report.

MDH Expands Advice for Measles Vaccination

With more than 40 confirmed cases of measles in at least three Minnesota counties, and more cases likely in the current outbreak, the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) has expanded its recommendations for stepped-up vaccination in an effort to curb the spread of the disease.

Measles is a serious disease that can lead to hospitalization and even death. It spreads very easily among unvaccinated people. On May 4, MDH made the following recommendations to protect children and adults during outbreaks:

  • All children 12 months and older who have not received a measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine should get the first dose as soon as possible.
  • Adults born in 1957 or later who have never received the MMR vaccine and have never had measles should get the vaccine as soon as possible.

Read the full news release.

Use Your Member Benefits

Complimentary On-Demand Virtual Coffee Break Webinars Available to MPhA Members

MPhA offers monthly educational webinars that provide you with education from experts on best practices, trends, effective solutions, and quality resources to help you advance your career as a pharmacy professional. E-learning is ideal for those who are unable to travel long distances for continuing education programs. The program provides opportunities to obtain CEs from the comfort of your home or office with both live and on-demand options. There are enough programs in the archives to earn your entire 2-year pharmacist CE requirement — at no cost!

Registration Fees

  • FREE for MPhA Members, including Pharmacy Technicians, students and residents
  • $25 per person per webinar for Non-members

National News

NCPA Submits Comments to CMS

From National Community Pharmacists Association Advocacy Center Update: The National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA) submitted comments to a CMS Request for Information (RFI) that was an attachment to the Final Call Letter. The RFI solicited input on “regulatory, sub-regulatory, policy, practice and procedural changes” to use “transparency, flexibility, program simplification and innovation” to provide MA and Medicare Part D enrollees with “options that fit their individual health needs.” NCPA’s comments focused on DIR fees, MAC pricing, access standards for preferred cost sharing pharmacies, the Part D lock-in program, and the reliability of existing PQA measures currently being used in the marketplace to determine performance at the pharmacy level.

Pharmacy Fly-in Shares Solutions with U.S. Congress

From National Community Pharmacists Association Advocacy Center Update: NCPA held its 49th annual meeting with over 200 independent community pharmacists visiting Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., recently to share with Congress real solutions to the problem of skyrocketing prescription drugs. The purpose of the fly-in was to encourage Congressional support for the following pro-pharmacy pieces of legislation: The Improving Transparency and Accuracy in Medicare Part D Spending Act (S. 413/H.R. 1038), The Ensuring Seniors Access to Local Pharmacies Act (H.R. 1939), The Prescription Drug Price Transparency Act (H.R. 1316), and The Pharmacy and Medically Underserved Areas Enhancement Act (S. 109 / H.R. 592). Pharmacists also spoke to members of Congress and staff about compounding and TRICARE issues of concern.

Community pharmacists from 37 states visited more than 250 congressional offices for meetings with members of Congress or their staffs during the two-day event. Also during the fly-in, NCPA hosted a congressional reception on Capitol Hill with meeting attendees and members of Congress and their staffs. Several notable members of Congress attended the reception including: Reps. Morgan Griffith (R-Va.), lead Republican sponsor of H.R. 1038 and 1939; Dave Loebsack (D-Iowa), lead Democrat sponsor of H.R. 1316; Doug Collins (R-Ga.), lead Republican sponsor of H.R. 1316; and Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.), House Republican Conference Chair and current co-sponsor of H.R. 592, 1038, 1316 and 1939. Visit NCPA's Facebook page to view photos from the 2017 Fly-In.

MPhA Events

Registration Open Now for MPhA’s 2017 Leadership Summit and House of Delegates Event

Join Minnesota pharmacists, student pharmacists and pharmacy technicians for a day of inspiration, information, influence building and crafting MPhA’s policy agenda at the 2017 MPhA Leadership Summit and House of Delegates meeting on Tuesday, June 20, at Midland Hills Country Club in Roseville, Minn. The program, themed, “Building Influence to Advance Patient Care & Practice,” is open to all members and non-members, in addition to those who will serve as delegates to the MPhA House of Delegates meeting. Non-delegates are welcome to stay and observe the policy deliberations that will lay the groundwork for MPhA’s policy agenda for the next year. MPhA seeks delegates — you will be asked if you are willing to serve and for which constituency during the registration process. MPhA will strive to assign delegates to their desired constituency but retains the right to assign delegates as needed to ensure all groups are represented.

Registration Information

The registration fee for the event is $45 for MPhA members, $60 for MPhA non-members and $20 for student pharmacists and includes breakfast, lunch and reception appetizers.

Register Online

MPhA’s Virtual Coffee Break: Primer Webinar for 2017 House of Delegates

Join MPhA Speaker of the House Kati Dvorak, Vice Speaker Tony Olson, Parliamentarian Terry Hietpas and the MPhA leadership for an Open Forum Webinar on Wednesday, May 24 between 11:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. Central Time during MPhA’s Virtual Coffee Break. We welcome both MPhA members and non-members for this webinar.

Register Online

Save the Date!

2017 MPhA Annual Learning Networking Event

September 7–8, 2017 | St. Paul RiverCentre

Did You Know?

U.S. Supply of Yellow Fever Vaccine Will Run Out by Midsummer

Consumers who are traveling to places where yellow fever is present should probably schedule a vaccination soon, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention told National Public Radio. CDC spokesperson Tom Skinner said, “It may be difficult to get this vaccine. And if you can’t get it, then you should postpone your trip.” Yellow fever cases are surging around the world. Read the full report.