Arlington, Va. – In support of pharmacy refill reminder programs and other healthcare communications by pharmacies, the National Association of Chain Drug Stores (NACDS) recently filed comments with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) requesting regulatory clarification regarding prior consent for calls to consumers’ cell phones for healthcare notifications.

NACDS’ comments were submitted in support of a petition asking the FCC to recognize that the prior consent requirement is satisfied when consumers provide their cellphone numbers to healthcare providers.

“One of the increasingly critical tools in the pharmacies’ toolbox is the ability to quickly and efficiently contact patients on their phones to alert them to information related to their prescriptions, such as notifications that the patient’s supply of maintenance medication is about to run out and is due under the doctor’s orders to be refilled. These types of notifications have demonstrated efficacy in improving patient adherence to a doctor-prescribed course of treatment,” NACDS stated in its comments.

NACDS outlined that both the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) previously determined that refill reminder and similar prescription notification calls are “beneficial health related messages that should have special public policy status,” and are thus protected communications under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).

In the interest of patients and positive health outcomes, NACDS emphasized the importance of allowing cell phone numbers to satisfy the prior consent requirement under federal law: “NACDS urges that any clarification related to HIPAA healthcare calls specifically include prescription refill reminder and notification programs by pharmacies.”