Arlington, Va. – The National Association of Chain Drug Stores (NACDS) this week filed an amicus brief in support of rights of pharmacies to send prescription refill reminders and other healthcare text messages and to make calls to patients’ cell phones to help improve medication adherence, or taking medications as prescribed. The brief was filed in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.
These prescription notifications rapidly and conveniently alert patients to important and time-sensitive information that is critical to the medically appropriate use of their prescribed medications
The brief filed by NACDS opposes an order by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) that imposes strict limits on automated or pre-recorded calls and texts to cell phones. In the brief, NACDS emphasizes that pharmacy text and voice messages are a crucial tool for improving patient health, as well as lowering overall healthcare costs associated with patients’ failure to take medications as prescribed.
“Failure to take medications as prescribed harms patient health,” said NACDS President and CEO Steven C. Anderson, IOM, CAE. “As Americans increasingly rely on mobile technology, it makes sense that reminders to refill their prescription medications be made available on their cell phones to help keep them on track with their medication regimen, as well as receive other information to help them manage their health.”
Pharmacies provide patients with several types of important healthcare communications, which arguably fall within the FCC category of “prescription notifications.” These notifications include reminding patients to pick up prescriptions they previously asked their pharmacist to fill or pursuant to their doctors’ orders, reminding patients that it is time to get their annual flu shots, and informing patients about potential safety issues associated with their medications such as drug recalls.
Medication non-adherence results in up to $290 billion in increased healthcare costs every year. Studies consistently show that 20-30 percent of prescriptions are never filled, and half of medications for chronic disease are not taken as prescribed, which has significant healthcare implications. Non-adherent patients are more likely to experience preventable disease progression, increased hospitalizations, doctor and emergency room visits and other problems arising from poor health.
“These prescription notifications rapidly and conveniently alert patients to important and time-sensitive information that is critical to the medically appropriate use of their prescribed medications,” NACDS stated in the legal brief.
Additional briefs challenging the FCC order restricting automated and pre-recorded calls and texts to cell phones have been filed by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the Retail Litigation Center, and others.