NCL encourages HHS nominee Becerra to continue efforts to help lower consumer out-of-pocket costs at the pharmacy counter

March 1, 2021
Media contact: National Consumers League – Carol McKay, carolm@nclnet.org, (412) 945-3242 or Taun Sterling, tauns@nclnet.org, (202) 207-2832

Washington, DC—The National Consumers League is encouraging the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) nominee Xavier Becerra to continue critical efforts to help drive down consumer out-of-pocket costs of medicines at the pharmacy counter.

Last week, Becerra testified before the Senate HELP Committee as his confirmation hearings were underway. If confirmed, Becerra would play a critical role in helping consumers pay no more than necessary for the medications they need by addressing the role pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) play in determining what consumers pay and why.

NCL Executive Director Sally Greenberg weighed in with the following statement:

“PBMs have repeatedly promised to lower costs for patients, but unfortunately we’ve not seen this in action. When it comes to prescription drug access and affordability, we should all be on the side of consumers, rather than middlemen corporations. The challenges posed by COVID-19 serve as a daily reminder of the importance of standing up for individuals and families that don’t have the knowledge or patience to understand why they’re subjected to PBM schemes. If confirmed, Attorney General Becerra will have the opportunity to continue working on this issue and helping to ensure PBMs uphold their promise to consumers. Everyone in the health care system needs to work to reduce costs for consumers, who are burdened by high costs across the board. We look forward to joining with him to get to the heart of why out-of-pocket costs are rising and, most importantly, what can be done about it.”

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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.
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NCL applauds White House efforts to expand vaccine rollout

For immediate release: February 22, 2021

Media contact: National Consumers League – Carol McKay, carolm@nclnet.org(412) 945-3242 or Taun Sterling, tauns@nclnet.org(202) 207-2832

Washington, DC—The National Consumers League (NCL) strongly supports the White House’s latest efforts to ramp up supplies to help expedite the national vaccine rollout plan. The Biden Administration has unveiled plans to mobilize federally-organized distribution channels to ensure Americans get as many shots in arms as possible. President Biden has promised to increase vaccine supply capacity to inoculate 100 million people within the first 100 days of his presidency. The ultimate goal is to have 300 million vaccines (600 million doses) in supply by this summer, which means that at least 50 percent of the population can be partially vaccinated by June. At this rate, we can expect that nearly 90 percent of the population will be fully vaccinated by December.

To meet these demands, the President has invoked the Defense Production Act to ramp up production of vaccines and personal protective equipment (PPE). The Administration has also partnered with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), to set up vaccination sites around the country. To help expand capacity and access to vulnerable communities, President Biden has galvanized Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) in the national response. As of February 15, FQHCs will receive supplies of the vaccines to reach individuals most at risk during the pandemic. Community pharmacies have also been engaged in rollout efforts to broaden access to historically disadvantaged communities, located farther from health services.

NCL appreciates the confidence this administration has placed in community health centers and pharmacies as a critical component in the national COVID-19 response.

“NCL has long recognized the vital role that pharmacists and other health professions play in our nation’s public health, through our decade of hosting the public health outreach campaign, Script Your Future,” said NCL Associate Director of Health Policy Nissa Shaffi. “We commend the Administration’s efforts to augment access to vaccines by leveraging federal and community resources. These newly-forged relationships will bring the nation closer to reaching herd immunity and making strides in achieving health equity.”

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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 statement in support of HR 40, the Commission to Study and Develop Reparation Proposals for African-Americans Act

For immediate release: February 18, 2021

Media contact: National Consumers League – Carol McKay, carolm@nclnet.org(412) 945-3242 or Taun Sterling, tauns@nclnet.org(202) 207-2832

Washington, DC—The National Consumers League (NCL) is proud to join hundreds of like-minded groups in supporting HR 40, which would create a commission to study and develop reparations proposals for African Americans. The House Judiciary Committee hearing on HR 40 on February 17, 2021 gave witnesses the opportunity to talk about the reason for and impact of reparations. The hearing also included several witnesses who oppose the concept of reparations.

Introduced by Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX), HR 40 would create a commission to identify: (1) the role of the federal and state governments in supporting the institution of slavery, (2) forms of discrimination in the public and private sectors against freed slaves and their descendants, and (3) lingering negative effects of slavery on living African-Americans and society.

This statement is attributable to NCL Board Chair Dominique Warren:

America has never reckoned with its 400 years of enslavement of 12 million Africans, brought to our shores shackled in fetid ships where huge numbers died of disease. As Michelle Singletary, Washington Post columnist has observed, reparations are not handouts, they are redress.

Beginning in 1619, enslaved people were brought to America and sold by those who profited from the slave trade, bought by plantation owners, farmers, businesses, and households, separated from siblings, parents, spouses and children and forced to work for free. After the Civil War, many freed slaves purchased land, only to see it stolen. Prosperous Black towns were looted and burned. Blacks have been beaten and murdered, many lynched on false allegations of criminal conduct  because of their race. Throughout America’s history, Blacks have been denied the right to vote and redlined from living in certain neighborhoods. Black Americans were and still are discriminated against in the workplace and prevented from earning fair and equal pay.

A new book on reparations, “From Here to Equality: Reparations for Black Americans in the Twenty-First Century,” recommends a number of possible compensation programs, including the establishment of a trust that could make grants to eligible Blacks to help start a business or buy a home.

NCL agrees with these recommendations, made by authors William A. Darity Jr. and A. Kirsten Mullen, that “the U.S. government, as the federal authority, bears responsibility for sanctioning, maintaining, and enabling slavery, legal segregation, and continued racial inequality.”

America has benefited from the institution of slavery. Segregation and voter suppression has given advantages to White Americans in the form of cheap Black labor, reduced employment competition, and the power to elect politicians who enacted laws that worked in the best interest of Whites and against equal opportunities for Black people.

Redress is part of the American justice system, indeed part of the international justice system. The federal government issued an apology and cash reparations to Japanese Americans who were interned in camps during World War II.  Germany paid reparations to Jewish survivors of the Holocaust.

Studying reparations for African Americans as one approach to redress by setting up a Commission to thoroughly study the cost of slavery, Jim Crow policies that followed it, and the ongoing discrimination against black Americans would truly begin the national discussion and the reconciliation and healing that needs to take place. The National Consumers League strongly supports HR 40 and urges its swift passage by members of Congress.

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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 FAIR Act to end forced arbitration

For immediate release: February 17, 2021

Media contact: National Consumers League – Carol McKay, carolm@nclnet.org(412) 945-3242 or Taun Sterling, tauns@nclnet.org(202) 207-2832

Washington, DC—NCL is pleased to support the Forced Arbitration Injustice Repeal Act (FAIR Act), a bill to re-establish Americans’ 7th Amendment right to seek justice and accountability through the court system. NCL applauds Representative Hank Johnson (D-GA) for introducing this critically important consumer and worker protection legislation as well as the Subcommittee on Antitrust, Commercial, and Administrative Law of the House Judiciary Committee for holding its February 11 hearing on the bill.

The bill previously passed the House of Representatives during the 116th Congress on Sept. 20, 2019 by a strong bipartisan vote of 225 to 186. The FAIR Act (H.R. 963) would eliminate forced arbitration clauses in employment, consumer, and civil rights cases and would allow consumers and workers to agree to arbitration after a dispute occurs. The House bill has 155 cosponsors.

This statement is attributable to NCL Executive Director Sally Greenberg:

Forced arbitration is a glaring marketplace injustice that undermines key worker and consumer protections. Thanks to a series of unfortunate Supreme Court decisions, forced arbitration clauses are ubiquitous throughout the marketplace. Thus, it falls to Congress to correct this injustice. Arbitration clauses are buried in the fine print of consumer and employment contracts for everything from cell phones, credit cards, cable service, nursing homes, employment, bank loans, student loans, apartment leases, and video subscriptions. Their practical effect is to block consumers’ and workers’ right to go to court. The actual arbitration process is fraught with problems; everything can be done in secret and without public rulings. Discovery is limited, and there is no meaningful judicial review, so consumers and employees are often unable to appeal a decision even if the arbitrator gets it wrong. Corporations can also choose where the arbitration will take place, what the rules will be, and how the costs will be borne.

Simply put, arbitration lacks the safeguards of a fair, impartial, and accessible court proceeding to protect people and hold accountable corporations that have committed widespread abuses, or marketed unsafe products or services.

As the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said about the Supreme Court’s rulings on forced arbitration, they ‘have predictably resulted in the deprivation of consumers’ rights to seek redress for losses, and turning the coin, they have insulated powerful economic interests from liability for violations of consumer protection laws.’

Congress never intended this. The Federal Arbitration Act was enacted in 1925 to give businesses — with relatively equal bargaining power — options for resolving their business disputes.

The FAIR Act would even the playing field. Contrary to industry arguments, it would not ‘ban’ arbitration; instead, it would stop forced arbitration from being imposed as a precondition for obtaining a product, or for obtaining or continuing service or employment, and closing off access to the courts for consumer law claims, employment law claims, civil rights claims, and antitrust claims by small businesses. Once a dispute actually arises and the stakes are clear, consumers, workers, or small businesses could freely choose arbitration, if they determine it to be a better option for them than the courts.

NCL encourages all members of Congress to support the FAIR Act; it is pro-worker, pro-consumer, and pro-small business legislation and helps to bring fairness to the marketplace and restore the basic American right to our day in court.

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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 supports the Black Maternal Health Momnibus

For immediate release: February 16, 2021

Media contact: National Consumers League – Carol McKay, carolm@nclnet.org(412) 945-3242 or Taun Sterling, tauns@nclnet.org(202) 207-2832

Washington, DC—The National Consumers League (NCL) is proud to support the Black Maternal Health Momnibus Act introduced last week by Representatives Lauren Underwood (D-IL) and Alma Adams (D-NC), Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ), and members of the Black Maternal Health Caucus. The Momnibus includes 12 bills intended to comprehensively address the maternal health crisis that disproportionately impacts Black, Indigenous, and women of color in this country.

Among other measures, the Momnibus calls for improvements to data collection and quality measures to help policymakers better understand the causes of maternal mortality in the United States. NCL has long supported policies to improve maternal health outcomes and advocated for increased access to healthcare for vulnerable populations. NCL’s founders supported early studies on the causes of infant mortality at the Hull House in Chicago in the 1890’s.

“It’s inexcusable for a nation as advanced and well-resourced as the United States to have the highest pregnancy-related death rate in the developed world. Our current healthcare system is failing to protect black women, who are three to four times more likely than white women to die from pregnancy-related complications,” said NCL Director of Health Policy Jeanette Contreras.

“We must also recognize the association between institutional racism and adverse birth outcomes among Black, Indigenous, and women of color,” said Contreras. The Momnibus provides investments to address the social determinants of health that create inequality, such as access to housing, transportation, and adequate nutrition. The legislation also provides funding to the community-based organizations whose work is integral to the support system shown to be effective at improving maternal health outcomes. The legislation further ensures that our most vulnerable moms have access to quality care throughout the pregnancy and during the critical first year of the infant’s life.

“NCL strongly supports the proposal to extend Medicaid and CHIP coverage to 12-months for postpartum care to mothers,” said Contreras. “As well as the legislation’s investments in diversifying the perinatal workforce—critical to providing culturally competent care to Black, Indigenous, and women of color. We enthusiastically call on Congress to support the passage of this comprehensive legislation to address the escalating maternal mortality crisis in this country.”

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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: Biden pandemic plan is a welcome step towards an equitable COVID-19 response

For immediate release: February 10, 2021

Media contact: National Consumers League – Carol McKay, carolm@nclnet.org(412) 945-3242 or Taun Sterling, tauns@nclnet.org(202) 207-2832

Washington, DC—Today the National Consumers League applauds the Biden’s Administration’s focus on addressing health disparities in its national response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The Executive Order on Advancing Racial Equality is a clear and welcome indication that the health and well-being of racial and ethnic minority communities is a priority for this administration,” said NCL Director of Health Policy Jeanette Contreras. “We are also encouraged by the fact that the leadership within the Biden Administration is the most ethnically diverse in our nation’s history. Our nation’s leaders can no longer turn a blind eye to the consequences of racial inequality on the health and economic status of people of color. As a result, the White House Domestic Policy Council is being tasked with applying a racial equity lens to all policies impacting the American people.”

The White House COVID-19 response plan has called for the establishment of a COVID-19 Racial and Ethnic Disparities Task Force to provide oversight on disparities in the public health and economic response. The Administration has also demonstrated its commitment to racial equity by establishing that the COVID-19 Task Force will become a permanent Infectious Disease Racial Disparities Task Force after the pandemic has ended.

In order to address health disparities and implement an equitable response to the pandemic, advocates argue it is critical that race and ethnicity data be collected. President Biden’s plan calls for the creation of a Nationwide Pandemic Dashboard that provides real-time data on key metrics, such as cases, testing, vaccinations, and hospital admissions. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will host a public dashboard tracking transmission rates by zip code.

“Current reporting of transmission rates reveals the inconsistent collection of data across the country—data that is incredibly important to decision-making across all aspects of daily life,” said Contreras. For example, school boards across the country rely on local transmission data to base their decisions on when it’s safe to return to in-person instruction, and city officials rely on this data to decide when to allow indoor dining at restaurants.

Access to testing will remain a vital tool in curbing the pandemic. The Administration has pledged to double the number of drive-through testing sites to alleviate the long lines and shortages that characterized the pandemic in 2020. As remotely-functioning employees return to worksites, there will be an ongoing need for employee testing. President Biden’s plan calls for a Pandemic Testing Board that will ensure the production of testing supplies meets the increased demand. Advocates welcomed the Administration’s swift enactment of the Defense Production Act to produce more vaccination supplies, at-home tests, and personal protective equipment.

“The lack of leadership from the Trump Administration left state and local health officials essentially flying blindly without data to inform their decisions,” said Contreras. “We are facing the consequences today, with evidence that communities of color are being vaccinated at disproportionately lower rates than their white counterparts. The Biden Administration’s COVID-19 plan offers federal officials a comprehensive framework for coordinating an equitable response to the pandemic. The National Consumers League applauds this Administration in its foresight and intention to build trust in communities of color to ensure our most vulnerable populations are not ignored moving forward.”

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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.

No PPP for anti-vaxxers! Ten advocacy groups tell SBA to claw back $850,000 in PPP Funding to anti-vaxxers

For immediate release: February 5, 2021

Media contact: National Consumers League – Carol McKay, carolm@nclnet.org(412) 945-3242 or Taun Sterling, tauns@nclnet.org(202) 207-2832

Washington, DC—Ten patient and consumer advocacy organizations are demanding that the Small Business Administration claw back nearly a million dollars worth of Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) monies granted to the leading American anti-vaccine groups.   

The advocacy organizations sent a joint letter to the U.S. Small Business Administration to express their collective concerns about the fact that, according to the Washington Post, five of the most virulent anti-vaccine organizationseach of which has spread misleading information about the coronaviruswere granted more than $850,000 in loans from the federal PPP. 

“Recipients of PPP loans include organizations that engage in conspiracy theories and lies about the safety and efficacy of vaccines generally and in this current environment, have spread misinformation about the COVID-19 vaccine,” stated the letter. 

Operation Warp Speed—the federal government’s program to develop, produce, and distribute enough COVID-19 vaccine doses to inoculate 300 million Americans in record time—has cost the American taxpayer roughly $12 billion so far, a number expected to grow more than two-fold at $26 billion. 

It is unfathomable and utterly counterproductive that taxpayer money was awarded to anti-vaccine groups during this national public health crisis,” the groups wrote. They called upon the Small Business Administration and the Biden Administration to investigate and rescind the loans made to the following anti-vaccination groups:   

Mercola.Com Health Resources ($335,000) 

Mercola.Com Health Resources received an astonishing $335,000 to maintain its operations during the pandemic. In December 2019, Mercola’s founder, Joseph Mercola, authored an article falsely stating that COVID-19 vaccines released via emergency authorization may cause massive side effects. In 2019, Mr. Mercola funded pervasive anti-vaccine efforts while the nation was grappling with widespread spikes of measles cases.  

Informed Consent Action Network ($166,000) 

The Informed Consent Action Network (ICAN), founded by anti-vaccine activist Del Bigtree received approximately $166,000 in PPP funding. Bigtree has attracted more than 43,000 followers via ICAN, and regularly posts about his skepticism regarding the COVID-19 vaccine, actively downplaying the severity of the pandemic. In a December 2020 interview, Bigtree falsely stated that the COVID-19 vaccines would lead to “vaccine-enhanced diseases” and could cause infertility in women, arguing that the antibodies could potentially attack a woman’s placenta, rather than the spike protein as intended. “If it starts attacking placentas, no one will be able to get pregnant. These are legitimate theoretical issues.” 

National Vaccine Information Center (Less than $150,000) 

Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., head of the National Vaccine Information Center (NVIC), took to social media in December of 2020 to call into question the safety of the COVID-19 vaccines: “We clearly have a systematic problem when government health regulators have utterly abdicated their responsibility to safeguard public health and refer safety concerns about shoddily tested, zero-liability vaccines to pharmaceutical companies.” Kennedy’s claims regarding the safety of the COVID-19 vaccines have not been validated and are irresponsible. 

Children’s Health Defense (Less than $150,000) 

NVIC’s Kennedy also founded Children’s Health Defense. His group’s misinformation campaign has contributed to widespread vaccine hesitancy around the country—primarily via social media, stirring up unfounded concerns among the population. 

Tenpenny Integrative Medical Center ($72,000) 

Tenpenny Integrative Medical Center, spearheaded by physician, Sherri Tenpenny, was awarded $72,000 in PPP loans. Tenpenny is the author of a book titled “Saying No to Vaccines: A Resource Guide for All Ages.” Additionally,  Tenpenny’s online forums promote alternative health in lieu of immunization and argue against vaccinations across an individual’s lifespan. One of Tenpenny’s pages was banned from Facebook in December for spreading misinformation. 

In the joint letter to the SBA, the advocacy organizations insist that taxpayer dollars be well spent on efforts to vaccinate 60-70 percent of Americans.

“Operation Warp Speed and other related efforts are the right investment. Funding groups with a long history of using junk science to question the safety and efficacy of vaccines is a colossal waste of taxpayer money. Any funds provided to groups that oppose the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines must be returned to the Treasury. PPP funding should not contribute to efforts aimed at undermining our national efforts to fight the SARS CoV 2 virus,” said the groups. 

The advocacy organizations signing the letter are listed below:  

Alliance for Aging Research
American Immunization Registry Association
American Medical Student Association
American Muslim Health Professionals
Families Fighting Flu
Idaho Immunization Coalition
Kimberly Coffey Foundation
Meningitis B Action Project
National Consumers League
Vaccinate Your Family 

Read the letter here.

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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.

Consumer groups back FDA on NDI draft guidance

For immediate release: February 3, 2021

Media contact: National Consumers League – Carol McKay, carolm@nclnet.org(412) 945-3242 or Taun Sterling, tauns@nclnet.org(202) 207-2832

Washington, DC—While the Biden Administration reviews late-hour regulations enacted by the Trump Administration, one important FDA guidance related to CBD deserves further consideration. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recently withdrew its pending CBD guidance, which the agency had submitted last summer. These highly anticipated guidelines were meant to elaborate on FDA’s CBD enforcement policy as unregulated, untested CBD products continue to infiltrate the consumer market. The FDA has not yet shared a timeline for re-submitting the CBD guidance.

NCL launched Consumers for Safe CBD in 2019 to encourage the FDA to use its existing authority to curtail the proliferation of potentially dangerous, unapproved CBD products and to incentivize CBD research, clinical trials, and the creation of science-based CBD medicines.

NCL Executive Director Sally Greenberg released the following statement in response to the FDA pulling its guidance:

The early weeks of 2021 have brought about many changes – with a new Administration, a new Congress, and continued progress in the fight against COVID-19,  there is hope for a safer, healthier future. NCL will continue to do its part to protect consumers and promote public health.

Unfortunately, CBD manufacturers continue to make unsubstantiated medical claims about their products, putting consumers at risk. We remain hopeful that the FDA and the Biden Administration will join us in our efforts to protect consumers from the potential dangers that exist in the current unregulated, wild west CBD marketplace.

NCL urges the FDA to re-circulate an updated proposal that encourages further research into CBD and the development of science-based CBD medicines and uses the FDA’s authority to regulate the CBD marketplace to protect consumers from CBD products that may put them at risk. Consumers deserve a safer, healthier future. We simply cannot abandon this work now.

To learn more about NCL’s Consumers for Safe CBD campaign, click here. To learn more about FDA’s recent efforts related to CBD, click here.

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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 calls on Administration to swiftly address PBMs’ role in diving up drug costs

For immediate release: February 3, 2021

Media contact: National Consumers League – Carol McKay, carolm@nclnet.org(412) 945-3242 or Taun Sterling, tauns@nclnet.org(202) 207-2832

Washington, DC—Washington, DC – The National Consumers League encourages the Biden Administration to continue work on meaningful reforms that help drive down consumer out-of-pocket costs of medicines. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Monday announced the decision to delay a final rule on pharmaceutical rebates that would address critical issues in our healthcare system. The rule aims to lower out-of-pocket costs for consumers by eliminating anti-kickback safe harbors for drug rebates and offering them as direct-to-consumer discounts.

As HHS has demonstrated, the rebates, discounts, and fees negotiated between pharmaceutical companies and pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) are rarely used to lower consumer out-of-pocket costs for medications. According to the new Senate Finance Committee report, some PBMs receive as much as 70 percent of insulin’s list price—demonstrating that PBMs can increase their profits when list prices are higher. By passing PBM rebates along to patients, savings at the pharmacy counter could be significant.

The following statement is attributable to NCL Executive Director Sally Greenberg:

This delay is a major and preventable setback for consumers. We could be one step closer to significantly lowering out-of-pocket costs, but the government has delayed action. As we continue to face a global pandemic and economic challenges, it’s absolutely essential that we put the interests of consumers above all else—including PBMs.

“We must fix our broken drug pricing process, and HHS has identified one major flaw. The discounts these manufacturers offer to PBMs aren’t passed along to consumers as they should be. And PBMs continue to increase their fees, driving costs up even further. This rule would ensure that consumers—not large, corporate PBMs—save money on the medications they need.

Consumers deserve better, and NCL is committed to encouraging meaningful PBM reforms as soon as possible.

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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.

Script Your Future launches tenth annual student competition for innovations in medication adherence

February 1, 2021

Media contact: National Consumers League – Carol McKay, carolm@nclnet.org, (412) 945-3242 or Taun Sterling, tauns@nclnet.org, (202) 207-2832

Washington, DC—Today marks the launch of the tenth annual Script Your Future Medication Adherence Team Challenge, a two-month-long intercollegiate competition among health profession student teams and faculty for creating solutions to raise awareness about medication adherence as a critical public health issue. The Challenge, hosted by the National Consumers League (NCL), is returning to university campuses across the country after nine years of successful student competition and innovation.

The Challenge is an integral part of Script Your Future, a campaign launched by NCL and its partners in 2011 to combat the problem of poor medication adherence in the United States, where nearly three out of four patients do not take their medication as directed.

“Today’s medications are better than ever at treating and curing people, but these treatments can only work if patients know the importance of taking their prescriptions as directed. It takes all members of the health team to make that happen,” said Sally Greenberg, NCL Executive Director. “For 10 years, our Script Your Future Medication Adherence Team Challenge has galvanized student health professionals to explore creative, interprofessional approaches, in encouraging medication adherence. To usher Script Your Future into the next era of improving adherence, we have implemented two new components to the Team Challenge: technology innovation and vaccine adherence. We have been blown away by the ingenuity of our student teams, and we look forward to how they will contribute to their communities in this year’s Team Challenge.”

As the nation continues to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic, Script Your Future teams are encouraged to build their campaigns centering around vaccine confidence to help address hesitancy and mitigate further spread of the coronavirus. Teams are encouraged to tailor their outreach towards chronic health issues including cardiovascular disease, hypertension, diabetes, and respiratory illnesses. Challenge administrators also welcome the inclusion of other disease groups that would benefit from medication adherence-related interventions.

The Challenge is sponsored by the American Pharmacists Association (APhA), the National Association of Chain Drug Stores (NACDS) Foundation, and the National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA).

Through April 2, inter-professional teams—including student pharmacists, nurses, doctors, and others—will implement creative outreach approaches in their communities to raise awareness and improve understanding about medication adherence. At the end of the Challenge, teams submit entries for review by national partner organizations, and winners are recognized for their efforts to improve medication adherence.

Last year, Team Challenge student health professionals were met with unique circumstances, hurdles, and obstacles as they navigated the historic COVID-19 pandemic, which resulted in school closures, event cancelations, and a host of other challenges. To adhere to social distancing guidelines, dedicated teams pivoted their campaigns and made an impact in other ways. Ultimately, however, more than 80 teams submitted applications; the competition saw engagement from nearly 2,900 future healthcare professionals and volunteers, who hosted more than 250 events in 14 states. Collectively, the teams directly counseled close to 12,000 patients and introduced Script Your Future messaging to more than 430,000 consumers, nationwide.

Since the Team Challenge began in 2011, more than 21,000 future healthcare professionals have directly counseled nearly 87,000 patients and nearly 26 million consumers.

Last year’s national award winner was University of the Sciences: Philadelphia College of Pharmacy. Other schools winning category-specific honors included: Howard University College of Pharmacy; St. Louis College of Pharmacy; Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine School of Pharmacy (LECOM); University of Pittsburgh School of Pharmacy; and Western University College of Pharmacy. Additional participating schools received finalist and runner-up status across a variety of award categories.

To learn about previous winners, visit Script Your Future’s online home.

For more information on the Challenge, visit the Challenge Community website.

Tweet along with us during the Challenge using #SYFchallenge, and follow the campaign @IWillTakeMyMeds.

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About National Consumers League

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.

About Script Your Future

Script Your Future is a campaign of the National Consumers League (NCL), a private, non-profit membership organization founded in 1899. NCL’s mission is to protect and promote social and economic justice for consumers and workers in the United States and abroad. For more information about the Script Your Future campaign, visit ScriptYourFuture.org. For more information on NCL, please visit nclnet.org.