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Nearly 500 pharmacies endorse drug-dispensing bill

In a letter sent late last week to the bill’s sponsor, more than 480 pharmacies endorsed the Medicare Efficient Drug Dispensing Act (S.B. 1493).

The bill, introduced by Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD), seeks to preserve the $5.7 billion in budget savings estimated to result from the short-cycle dispensing policy enacted in 2010. The goals of the short-cycle policy are endangered by the new reimbursement rules adopted by two of the largest prescription drug plan sponsors (PDPs), which control nearly two-thirds of the market, according to a statement from Senior Care Pharmacy Alliance. The PDPs switched from paying pharmacies a flat, professional fee every time they fill a script to a professional fee that is tied to the number of days’ supply of medication the pharmacy dispenses, SCPA said.

“This breadth of support demonstrates the negative impact this change has had on LTC pharmacies, and the need for Senator Cardin’s bill. Pharmacies across the country had been aggressively investing in new technologies to increase efficiencies…but this change in policy has pharmacies holding off on those significant financial investments,” said Larry Galluzzo, president of Skilled Care Pharmacy in Mason, Ohio.

Already, the average cost to dispense a LTC prescription is at least $13.70, and LTC pharmacies are being reimbursed between $4.50 and $5.00 per script on average, Galluzzo told Drug Topics.

“The costs – looking up medical records and stats, consulting, filling, and sorting it for different nursing homes – are there whether we fill a 1-day supply or a 30-day supply. Our net profit is very slim as it is. If you take a percent or two off of that, you are going to cut your profits by 25 to 35 percent,” Galluzzo said.

Cardin is pleased to see support for the bill from several of the nation’s LTC pharmacies. “It is important that we achieve the savings that were projected from the short-cycle dispensing policy. My legislation would ensure that waste and unnecessary Medicare expenses are minimized in LTC facilities,” Cardin said.

S.B. 1493 been referred to the Senate Committee on Finance.

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