Research Triangle Park, N.C. – Emphasizing the important role of pharmacists in providing vaccine services for patients, the National Association of Chain Drug Stores (NACDS) submitted a written statement in lead-up to a forum hosted by U.S. Rep. Renee Elmers (R-NC) today at the Hammer Institutes for Health Sciences.
The forum, titled “The 21st Century Cures Roundtable – Vaccine Focus,” highlighted the importance of vaccinations in the interest of public health. Spearheaded by House Committee on Energy and Commerce Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) and committee member Rep. Diana DeGette (D-CO), the 21st Century Cures Initiative is designed to help accelerate the discovery, development and delivery process of new drug treatments for patients.
In addition to Rep. Ellmers, Rep. Michael Burgess (R-TX) – who both serve on the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee – representatives from federal agencies including the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) participated in today’s panel discussion. Representatives from pharmaceutical companies also participated in the panel discussion.
“Highly educated to provide patient care services, pharmacists are well-suited to help increase vaccination rates and further reduce the incidence of vaccine preventable diseases,” NACDS said in its statement.
NACDS also highlighted the healthcare savings that pharmacist-provided vaccines yield for patients.
“As demonstrated through the TRICARE program, significant savings were achieved by the Department of Defense when policies were implemented to allow TRICARE beneficiaries to obtain flu & pneumococcal vaccines from retail pharmacies,” NACDS stated.
It was estimated that for the first six months that beneficiaries could obtain their vaccinations from pharmacists, 18,361 vaccines for H1N1, flu & pneumococcal were administered at a cost of nearly $300,000. NACDS noted that had those vaccines been administered under the medical benefit, the cost to TRICARE would have been $1.8M. Because of these savings, the Department of Defense opted to expand coverage of the portfolio of vaccines that TRICARE beneficiaries may obtain from community pharmacies to include all CDC-recommended vaccines.
In its statement, NACDS also encouraged policymakers to identify opportunities to further utilize pharmacists to reach under-vaccinated populations, especially in states where restrictive state laws limit the vaccine services that pharmacists can provide.
“As the face of neighborhood healthcare, community pharmacies and pharmacists provide convenient, accessible and cost-effective health services including immunizations to their local communities,” NACDS said in its statement.