COMMUNITY PHARMACY’s FUTURE IS PROMINENT IN THINKING OF WHITE HOUSE TASK FORCE STAFFERS ON DRUG ISSUES, NWDA REPORTS: WHOLESALERS COULD MONITOR PRICES
The White House health care task force is exhibiting concern for the future of community pharmacy in meetings with other elements of the drug trade. A contingent from the National Wholesale Druggists Association reports that the subject of the continued viability of community pharmacy under a managed competition system was a major issue brought up by task force members at an April 6 meeting. Alco Health Services Chairman John McNamara, one of three NWDA representatives at the meeting, said that the task force has "a problem seeing where the community pharmacist, for example, is going to fit in a managed health care environment." The task force is concerned "whether or not that outlet can be competitive," McNamara observed. The Alco exec reported on the April 6 session at a recent meeting for wholesalers sponsored by Marion Merrell Dow. McNamara was accompanied to the task force meeting by NWDA President Ron Streck and Bergen Brunswig President and NWDA current chairman Dwight Steffensen. The NWDA group, McNamara said, tried to dispel some of the task force's concern about different price levels. "One of the things that we tried to tell them," McNamara said, "from our standpoint, was everybody on Main Street bought really close to the same price." NWDA requested the meeting as a followup to a letter to the task force in early March in which the association noted the dramatic effect of the rhetorical battle between the Clinton Administration and the pharmaceutical industry on the ability of the drug and biotech companies to draw outside investment ("The Pink Sheet" March 15, p. 5). A group of five task force members at the meeting was headed by Louise Rodriguez from the working group on short-term cost controls. Rodriguez works at the Veterans Affairs Department. Through her affiliation with V-A, Rodriguez was aware of the role of wholesalers in drug distribution, McNamara noted. Alco was one of three wholesalers chosen for demonstration projects as "prime vendor" drug suppliers to the V-A in October 1991. "She was relatively complimentary" of the role of wholesalers in cost control, McNamara said. Noting the likelihood of some form of price restraint on pharmaceuticals as a result of the Clinton health care reform initiative, McNamara suggested that wholesalers might be able to play some role in monitoring prices. Streck reported that NWDA is meeting with pharmacy groups and manufacturers "to see if we can create a system that would not require formularies or price controls."
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