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MAIL SERVICE PHARMACY OVERSIGHT HEARING BY SENATE SUBCOMMITTEE

Executive Summary

MAIL SERVICE PHARMACY OVERSIGHT HEARING BY SENATE SUBCOMMITTEE is tentatively slated for July 24. The hearing before the Senate Governmental Affairs' Subcommittee on Governmental Efficiency, Federalism and the District of Columbia will reportedly focus on possible abuses within a mail service pharmacy program for federal employees. Among the witnesses scheduled to appear are representatives of the National Association of Retail Druggists (NARD), which has been pushing for the hearing. NARD met with subcommittee Chairman Jim Sasser (D-Tenn.) in March to ask for a hearing on the issue, according to a spokesperson for the group. However, a recent letter from a mail order pharmacy group requested that the subcommittee postpone the session in order to draw a panel of witnesses more representative of the mail order business. NARD sought the hearing ajs an oversight investigation into the manner in which federal employees were offered a mail order prescription option last fall, according to the spokesperson. The mail service program is handled by Medco's National Pharmacies group for Blue Cross/Blue Shield. Acknowledging that "we heard only yesterday of the proposed July 24 hearing," the National Association of Mail Service Pharmacies (NAMSP) said in a July 16 letter to the subcommittee that "in the interest of fairness, we believe that you and your colleagues should hear from a more representative group of witnesses than those currently scheduled to appear." "Neither the provider of the mail service benefits in question nor the beneficiary group are scheduled to appear," NAMSP noted. "Accordingly, we respectfully request that the proposed July 24 hearing be rescheduled to allow for the organization of a representative panel of mail service providers, mail service consumers and pharmacy experts to appear at the [same] time as the groups representing the competitors of mail service pharmacies." The letter was signed by John McHugh, NAMSP president and president of the American Association of Retired Persons Pharmacy Service, an NAMSP charter member. Other members of the 10 year-old group include Medco Containment Services, America's Pharmacy Health Care Services, and the mail order pharmacy divisions of Baxter-Travenol, J. C. Penney and Walgreens.
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