Community pharmacists, congressmen question CMS plan to shorten long-term care drug-dispensing cycles

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There is “scant evidence” that implementing shorter prescription drug dispensing cycles in long-term care will actually reduce costs, according to a statement issues Monday from the National Community Pharmacists Association.

The NCPA issued its statement to build upon a letter sent Friday from 10 Republican members of Congress to Donald Berwick, administrator of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. The congressmen, led by Rep. Peter Roskam (R-IL), expressed concern over the lack of information about a potential increase in dispensing costs that pharmacies serving long-term care facilities would incur with a shorter dispensing cycle.

 “The limited data CMS cites to support short-cycle dispensing are an unpublished study from a single pharmacy, and three published studies, the most recent of which is 25 years old,” the congressmen wrote.

“More importantly,” the NCPA says in its statement, “the requirement is very burdensome for pharmacies, which may have to invest significant resources in order to comply with the regulation.” Implementing the shorter dispensing cycles without properly investigating the financial impact on pharmacies “could have unintended consequences, such as higher costs to Medicare or fewer pharmacies providing LTC services,” the group adds.