In a commentary published in Pharmacy Times Health-System Edition, National Pharmaceutical Council President and CEO John M. O’Brien reprises the remarks he made this spring to pharmacy students when delivering the Charles W. Hartman Memorial Annual Lecture at the University of Mississippi School of Pharmacy. Dr. O’Brien reflects on his personal experience as a pharmacist and how that training led him on the path to a career in health policy.
In particular, he noted several policy areas that can make it challenging for pharmacists to ensure patients get the care they need. Health benefit design is especially important. Some designs require patients to pay high out-of-pocket costs, try several medications first before using the one their doctor has prescribed, or block them from applying coupons to pay for medications. Studies have shown that patients may forgo their medications and needed care as a result of these barriers.
Another policy area is the system of rebates and hidden fees, which are passed on to patients at the pharmacy counter. IQVIA research showed that 33% of drug spending in 2020 went to an entity other than the drug company that made the medicine – but not to the patient.
Finally, policy discussions should be grounded in high-quality evidence. Making policy decisions on sound data and research is essential to helping the different parts of the health care system work better together on behalf of patients, O’Brien wrote.
Read the full commentary on the Pharmacy Times Health-System Edition website.