Pharmacy News

Gottlieb urges federal government to surge vaccines to Michigan

Washington — Dr. Scott Gottlieb, the former head of the Food and Drug Administration, faulted the Biden administration for declining to send more vaccine doses to Michigan as the state experiences a sharp increase in COVID-19 cases, saying the federal government should adapt its current vaccination strategy to surge vaccine doses and resources to virus hot spots.

"It's a request that's been made for weeks now, and I think we should have done it weeks ago," Gottlieb said Sunday on "Face the Nation." "It's never too late to do it. And it's not just additional vaccine, but it's the resources to actually get the vaccine into arms."

In recent weeks, Michigan has become the new epicenter of the pandemic, leading the nation in new COVID-19 cases by a wide margin, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 

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Posted in: Professional Practice
Michigan’s Virus Cases Are Out of Control, Putting Gov. Gretchen Whitmer in a Bind

Outbreaks are ripping through workplaces, restaurants, churches and family weddings. Hospitals are overwhelmed with patients. Officials are reporting more than 7,000 new infections each day, a sevenfold increase from late February. And Michigan is home to nine of the 10 metro areas with the country’s highest recent case rates.

During previous surges in Michigan, a resolute Gov. Gretchen Whitmer shut down businesses and schools as she saw fit — over the din of both praise and protests. But this time, Ms. Whitmer has stopped far short of the sweeping shutdowns that made her a lightning rod.

“Policy change alone won’t change the tide,” Ms. Whitmer said on Friday, as she asked — but did not order — that the public take a two-week break from indoor dining, in-person high school and youth sports. “We need everyone to step up and to take personal responsibility here.”

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Posted in: Professional Practice
Michigan’s Virus Cases Are Out of Control, Putting Gov. Gretchen Whitmer in a Bind

Ms. Whitmer, a Democrat, locked down her state over the din of protests last year. Now she is trying a different approach, appealing to personal responsibility.

Nowhere in America is the coronavirus pandemic more out of control than in Michigan.

Outbreaks are ripping through workplaces, restaurants, churches and family weddings. Hospitals are overwhelmed with patients. Officials are reporting more than 7,000 new infections each day, a sevenfold increase from late February. And Michigan is home to nine of the 10 metro areas with the country’s highest recent case rates.

During previous surges in Michigan, a resolute Gov. Gretchen Whitmer shut down businesses and schools as she saw fit — over the din of both praise and protests. But this time, Ms. Whitmer has stopped far short of the sweeping shutdowns that made her a lightning rod.

“Policy change alone won’t change the tide,” Ms. Whitmer said on Friday, as she asked — but did not order — that the public take a two-week break from indoor dining, in-person high school and youth sports. “We need everyone to step up and to take personal responsibility here.”

It is a rare moment in the pandemic: a high-profile Democratic governor bucking the pleas of doctors and epidemiologists in her state and instead asking for voluntary actions from the public to control the virus’s spread. Restaurants and bars remain open at a reduced capacity, Detroit Tigers fans are back at the stadium and most schools have welcomed students into the classroom.

Ms. Whitmer’s new position reflects the shifting politics of the pandemic, shaped more by growing public impatience with restrictions and the hope offered by vaccines than by any reassessment among public health authorities of how best to contain the virus.

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Posted in: Member News
Pharmacy deserts result in poor health for some rural areas

LANSING – Sgt. Sheila Peters, the Alger County emergency management deputy director, has lived in her Upper Peninsula county her whole life. She said a 45-minute drive to the closest pharmacy isn’t unusual. 

That’s because Peters lives in a pharmacy desert, defined as being more than a 10-mile drive from the nearest drug store.

And in the winter, Peters said, U.P. roads can be especially treacherous, which makes the drive for medicine that much more difficult. 

In Burt Township in Alger County, the nearest pharmacy is 39 miles away, one of the furthest drives to a pharmacy in Michigan, according to a map from Cardinal Health.

Among the state’s 230-plus pharmacy deserts are Ransom Township in Hillsdale County, Whitefish Township in Chippewa County, Montmorency Township in Montmorency County, Powell Township in Marquette County, Norwich Township in Missaukee County, Lovells Township in Crawford County, Nottawa Township in Clare County, Lee Township in Allegan County and Norman Township in Manistee County. 

The term “pharmacy desert” can be traced back to a 2014 publication by Dima Qato, a pharmacy professor at the University of Southern California.

Heather Christensen, the president of the Michigan Pharmacists Association, said some state residents have to drive more than an hour to get to a pharmacy. 

Drug stores provide more than just medicine though: They provide clinics, measure blood pressure and test for diseases such as the flu and COVID-19. 

Even with the government sending vaccines to pharmacies in rural areas, there are still communities that aren’t able to get them.

The existence of a pharmacy desert “pretty much goes hand-in-hand that you’re not having primary care,” Christensen said.

If people can’t get to a pharmacy, they might not start taking necessary medications, she said, although since the pandemic began, some pharmacies have started mailing medicines.

The rules for pharmacies have changed slightly so medications can be refilled without seeing a provider, and some medications can be mailed that couldn’t have been mailed before.

Christensen said it can be difficult for pharmacies, as businesses, to make a profit in a rural area. 

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Posted in: MPA in the News
PBM Reform Advancing in Michigan with House Passage of HB 4348

NCPA, MPA urge Senate, Gov. Whitmer to swiftly finalize state’s first PBM regulation

LANSING, Mich. (March 24, 2021) — The Michigan Pharmacists Association and the National Community Pharmacists Association applaud passage of Michigan House Bill 4348 by the state’s House of Representatives in a vote of 97-10. This legislation, introduced by Rep. Julie Calley, would provide much-needed pharmacy benefit manager reforms, which are lacking in Michigan. PBMs are threatening access to community pharmacies and increasing health care costs for patients and plan sponsors in Michigan. The bill had passed the Health Policy Committee, chaired by Rep. Bronna Kahle, in a vote of 18-1, and now heads to the Senate for consideration.

“PBMs, which dictate how patients get their prescriptions and how much they pay, spent years operating in the shadows and manipulating the complicated health care system to fleece patients, taxpayers, and pharmacies,” said MPA CEO Mark Glasper. “Thankfully, their tactics are being uncovered and restricted in states across the country. Michigan must rein them in too.

“House Speaker Jason Wentworth was a driving force behind this legislation,” Glasper said. “MPA has been educating and working with the speaker for the past four years on the tactics that PBMs use in his state and across the country. His leadership and the strong support of the Michigan House of Representatives for HB 4348 have been integral to the bill’s passage. The Senate and Gov. Whitmer should quickly approve House Bill 4348 to provide patients and local pharmacies with the relief they need.”

House Bill 4348 would prohibit PBMs from reimbursing pharmacies affiliated with the PBM more than non-affiliate pharmacies; prohibit patient steering to PBM-owned pharmacies; prohibit retroactive clawbacks; require reimbursements be based on the National Average Drug Acquisition Cost, an objective benchmark that accurately reflects the true market costs for Michigan pharmacies; and establish fair audit procedures for community pharmacies.

“The majority of states have laws on the books to curb drug costs by regulating PBMs, whether by outlawing patient steering, requiring the PBM to be licensed by the state, banning gag clauses or through other reforms,” said Anne Cassity, NCPA Vice President of Federal and State Government Affairs. “Independent neighborhood pharmacies and their patients are eager to see Michigan implement PBM regulations as well. We’re grateful to Reps. Calley and Kahle, to Speaker Wentworth, and to their colleagues for joining them in supporting this important legislation.”

Click here for NCPA's letter in support of House Bill 4348.

Posted in: MPA Press Releases
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