The National Consumers League applauds the FTC’s decision to investigate PBMs

June 14, 2022

Media contact: National Consumers League – Katie Brown, katie@nclnet.org, (202) 207-2832

Washington, DC— NCL is deeply concerned by the lack of transparency and accountability surrounding pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs). The pervasive power of PBMs in the pharmaceutical industry has raised out-of-pocket costs for consumers and made it more difficult for them to receive essential medical treatment. NCL believes that the FTC’s investigation into PBMs represents a significant first step to addressing these issues.

The PBM system was originally intended to work on behalf of employers, health plans, labor unions, and states, to negotiate with drug manufacturers and process prescription drug claims. However, as their power and influence in the market has grown, there are major concerns that PBMs have increasingly prioritized profits, with consumers paying the price.

With the highest profit rates of any corporations in the prescription drug supply chain, PBMs have pocketed more than $450 billion in revenue in 2020, a stark $150 billion increase from eight years ago.  More concerning is that now, just three PBMs account for approximately 77 percent of all equivalent prescription claims.

PBMs often demand that drug companies provide them “rebates” or discounts to offer medicines as part of a drug benefit plan. While implemented to lower consumers’ out-of-pocket costs, these theoretical consumer savings seem to be nonexistent. In addition, to increase profits, PBMs intentionally steer consumers to higher-priced drugs, regardless of patient and treatment considerations.

As the most prominent PBMs have vertically integrated with the largest health insurance companies, they are employing monopolistic-like practices to increase prescription prices, limit consumer choice, and stifle market competition. NCL is encouraged that the FTC is taking preliminary action to hold PBMs accountable. In addition to this investigation, policy-makers and the FTC must continue to address the lack of regulatory oversight with the utmost urgency.

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About the National Consumers League (NCL) 

The National Consumers League, founded in 1899, is America’s pioneer consumer organization. Our mission is to protect and promote social and economic justice for consumers and workers in the United States and abroad. For more information, visit www.nclnet.org.

 

National Consumers League supports the HELP Copays Act to make prescription drugs more affordable for consumers

June 2, 2022

Media contact: National Consumers League – Katie Brown, katie@nclnet.org, (202) 207-2832

Washington, DC— The National Consumers League (NCL) is pleased to support the HELP Copays Act (H.R. 5801), introduced by Representatives Donald McEachin (VA-04) and Rodney Davis (IL-13). NCL stands with other aligned stakeholder groups, as part of the All Copays Count Coalition (ACCC), to protect patients from increased out-of-pocket medical costs and ensure that essential and life-saving drugs are readily accessible for all consumers.

NCL’s support of the Help Copays Act follows our organization’s long history of ensuring access to health care and a fair marketplace for consumers in the United States. Across the nation, the cost of drugs vital to patients’ health and wellbeing are unaffordable for many families. This has made co-pay assistance including discounts, coupon cards, vouchers, donations, and more, a key tool for enabling people to pay for their prescriptions. However, recent policies, mainly copay accumulator adjustment programs instituted by health insurance and pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs), block these contributions from patients’ deductibles and out-of-pocket maximums, resulting in more costs for consumers.

The pandemic has only exacerbated consumers’ struggles to afford the medical treatment they need. A recent report by HIV and HEP Policy Institute, discusses how the average family cannot afford to cover the deductibles of their employer-sponsored health plans. The Help Copays Act will require these health insurance plans to count all forms of co-pay assistance towards patients’ out-of-pocket maximums, making essential drugs and treatments more affordable.

NCL supports H.R. 5801 as a solution to reducing the barriers that prevent our nation’s most vulnerable from receiving the medicines they need to maintain and improve health outcomes. According to a survey conducted by the National Hemophilia Foundation, 80 percent of voters support this bipartisan effort to ensure that copay assistance counts towards patients’ deductibles. NCL strongly urges policy-makers to fulfill their obligation to their constituents and support The Help Copays Act as this legislation is an important step in improving access to health care and establishing a fair marketplace for all consumers.

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About the National Consumers League (NCL) 

The National Consumers League, founded in 1899, is America’s pioneer consumer organization. Our mission is to protect and promote social and economic justice for consumers and workers in the United States and abroad. For more information, visit www.nclnet.org.

 

2022 Script Your Future Medication Adherence Team Challenge Winners

The eleventh annual Script Your Future contest saw participation by 24 schools in 11 states and directly counseled nearly 7,000 patients nationwide

Media contact: National Consumers League – Katie Brown, katie@nclnet.org, (202) 207-2832

May 13, 2022

Washington, DC —Today, the National Consumers League (NCL) and its partners announced the winners of the eleventh annual Script Your Future Medication Adherence Team Challenge, a competition designed to engage pharmacy students and faculty across the nation by encouraging teams to develop creative initiatives to raise public awareness about the importance of medication adherence, vaccine confidence, and safe drug disposal.

This year’s winners are Wilkes University, Temple University, Western University, Northeast Ohio Medical University (NEOMED), University of Pittsburgh, and Touro University California.

The 2022 Script Your Future Team Challenge is an awareness campaign coordinated by NCL with support from its partners and the Challenge sponsors—Eli Lilly, Deterra, the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy (AACP), the American Pharmacists Association (APhA), and the National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA).

The Team Challenge was first established in 2011 to nurture adherence-minded values in future generations of professionals entering the workplace.

In 2022, our Team Challenge student health professionals spread messaging on the importance of medication adherence, vaccine confidence, and a new health topic: safe drug disposal. This year, over 1,000 future healthcare professionals and volunteers from across 11 states participated in the Team Challenge. This year’s winners, selected from dozens of applications and 24 participating educational institutions, are listed below.

 

National Award Winner: Wilkes University Nesbitt School of Pharmacy – PA

Wilkes University is a fourth-time participant of the Script Your Future Team Challenge, and a first-time winner of the National Award! During the 2022 Team Challenge, students on the Wilkes team successfully collaborated with Highmark Health pharmacists to create a medication adherence questionnaire that was circulated to patients. They also creatively used social media, including TikTok and YouTube, to spread messages about the importance of medication adherence, vaccine confidence, and safe drug disposal. These messages got over 58,000 views. Students were also able to vaccinate patients for COVID-19 (boosters), Shingles, and Influenza. The Wilkes team was able to directly counsel 1,184 patients, and reached 49,313 people through their outreach efforts.

 

National Award Winner: Temple University School of Pharmacy – PA

Temple University is also a first-time winner of the Script Your Future National Award! This year, Temple students of pharmacy collaborated with health and community organizations in Philadelphia, including Temple University Hospital, and its affiliated clinics as well as the places where people live their lives such as local community pharmacies, parks, churches, charitable organizations, and schools. For example, Temple’s team worked with Dispose Rx to spread messages about the importance of safe drug disposal in North Philadelphia. This team also worked with the Children’s Mission to serve people who have no or unstable housing, and counseled them on their medications along with conducting blood pressure checks. Temple students directly counseled 234 patients, and reached over 400 patients through their activities.

 

Health Disparities/Underserved Focus Award Winner: Northeast Ohio Medical University School of Pharmacy – OH

The Northeast Ohio Medical University School of Pharmacy (NEOMED) team is this year’s winner of the Script Your Future Health Disparities Award! NEOMED’s team focused on reaching low-income and homeless individuals, the elderly, and refugees. NEOMED students worked with the Center for Families and Children, IKON Health Foundation, and Rose Centers for Aging Well to reach these underserved populations. Through their efforts, the NEOMED team vaccinated 456 patients, directly counseled 1,323 patients, reached 1,923 patients, and distributed and donated 3,254 resources.

 

Media Outreach Award Winner: Western University School of Health Sciences, College of Pharmacy – CA

This year’s winner of the Media Outreach Award is Western University College of Pharmacy! This team implemented creative uses of traditional and social media to spread messaging related to medication adherence, vaccine confidence, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, interprofessional collaboration, antimicrobial resistance, and safe drug storage & disposal. They created a brand-new podcast series that aimed to provide information on these topics, and made them available on multiple media platforms including Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, and their website. The podcast series can be found here. Across all of these platforms, Western University’s team was able to get 1,203 views.

 

Creative Interprofessional Team Event Award Winner: University of Pittsburgh School of Pharmacy – PA

University of Pittsburgh’s pharmacy students demonstrated great interprofessional collaborations with other health professional students at their university. Their team included students from the University of Pittsburgh’s School of Dental Medicine, School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, School of Medicine, School of Nursing, and School of Social Work. Their multi-disciplinary intervention with different health professional students helped to bring multiple perspectives and skills sets together to bridge gaps in expertise when counseling patients. Their interprofessional team documented over 1,800 unique patient encounters at community pharmacy sites, including patients with disease states like hypertension, diabetes, and dyslipidemia to transplant and neurologic disorders.

 

Technology Innovation Focused Award: Touro University California, College of Pharmacy – CA

Touro University’s pharmacy students implemented creative uses of technology to increase messaging for medication adherence. They created a digital medication adherence wallet card, to help patients keep track of their medications in a more convenient way. Given that technology is so widely used today, this was a great effort by the students. They did mention an important issue, that there are people who do not have internet access, so these digital cards were given in complement with the physical wallet cards.

 

Congratulations to the winners of the 2022 Script Your Future Medication Adherence Team Challenge!

 

A word from NCL and one of our generous Script Your Future sponsors

“The Script Your Future program has been a great way to engage future health professionals and spread messages about the importance of medication adherence, vaccine confidence, and now, safe drug disposal. As we are still combatting the COVID-19 pandemic, it is important to keep patients on top of their health care needs, and participants of this program have been a part of these efforts. This year, we had over 1,000 participants conduct community outreach activities, and NCL continues to be impressed by the impact these students have on their respective communities across the country.”

  • NCL Executive Director, Sally Greenberg

 

Student pharmacists have been important contributors to the outreach to communities, especially throughout the pandemic. Medication adherence, vaccine access, and substance use prevention are critically important priorities and AACP appreciates NCL’s commitment to this recognition program.

  • American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy (AACP) Executive Vice President and CEO, Lucinda L. Maine, PhD, RPh

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About the National Consumers League (NCL) 

The National Consumers League, founded in 1899, is America’s pioneer consumer organization. Our mission is to protect and promote social and economic justice for consumers and workers in the United States and abroad. For more information, visit www.nclnet.org.

 

NCL joins education campaign to help seniors safely buy drugs online – National Consumers League

counterfeit_Drugs_icon.jpgThis week, the National Consumers League (NCL) joined forces with the Alliance for Safe Online Pharmacies (ASOP Global), and the Center for Safe Internet Pharmacies (CSIP) in launching a campaign to educate seniors and their caregivers about the health and financial risks associated with buying prescription medicines from illegal or rogue online pharmacies.Over the last century, the number of Americans aged 65 and older has increased exponentially, and studies show that this trend will continue for the foreseeable future. While the elderly are living longer, many older adults depend on a multitude of prescription drugs to maintain their quality of life and to combat many of the problems that may arise with aging, such as chronic diseases. Approximately nine out of 10 older adults have at least one chronic disease, and nine out of 10 older Americans rely on at least one prescription medication on a regular basis. As adults 65 and older account for over one-third of all prescription medications and with many seniors living on fixed incomes, it is not surprising that they are looking for opportunities to purchase their necessary medications at cheaper prices.

Unfortunately, seniors are particularly vulnerable to unknowingly purchasing counterfeit drugs in an effort to find a more convenient and affordable means to obtain the medications they need. Of course, there are many online pharmacies that operate legally and are perfectly safe. However, there are many rogue online pharmacy sites that sell potentially dangerous, or even deadly, drugs that have not been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for safety and effectiveness.

Many of these sites operate under the guise of being a legal, safe, and often cheaper alternative to purchasing a prescription from a retail or mail-order pharmacy. But in reality, they often sell drugs that contain the wrong active ingredient, the wrong amount of the active ingredient, no active ingredient at all, harmful ingredients, or even poisons. As an increasing number of older adults are being introduced to the Internet, it is important that they are educated on the risks associated with purchasing their prescriptions online.

To fill this knowledge gap, the National Consumers League is pleased to be collaborating with the Alliance for Safe Online Pharmacies and the Center for Safe Internet Pharmacies to not only educate seniors and their caregivers about online pharmacies, but also empower them to make safe and informed decisions when shopping for prescription drugs online. Counterfeit drugs have long been an area of great concern for NCL, and we are enthusiastic about contributing to this joint effort to keep older Americans safe online.

To stay safe, seniors and their caregivers should avoid websites that:

  1. Do not require a valid prescription.
  2. Allow you to buy prescription medications by simply completing an online questionnaire.
  3. Offer drastically discounted prices.
  4. Do not have a licensed pharmacist available for consultation.
  5. Do not display a physical street address.
  6. Offer to ship prescriptions from other countries to the U.S.
  7. Are not verified by the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP).

Consumers are encouraged to buy from sites ending in .pharmacy, which are verified by NABP. In addition, online pharmacies that display the VIPPS (Verified Internet Pharmacy Practice Sites) seal have successfully undergone NABP’s rigorous screening process.

For more information about illegal online pharmacies and counterfeit medicines, consumers should visit www.XtheRisk.com. For additional information on health fraud and tips on how to protect yourself from the dangers of counterfeit drugs, visit Fraud.org.