August 2020
NETWORK NEWS
Greetings!

Covid-19: Food For Thought
by David Benoit
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I would like to take a few moments to thank each and every one of you for all you have done and are doing. It is a most challenging time that we are trying to help people stay well. But, not everybody wants our or anybody’s help. It is kind of amazing that people who we know are on top of their game have many contrary beliefs regarding this virus, the pandemic, etc.

Maybe they just don’t believe in science. Or, maybe they need to maintain control of their world and following the guidelines thwarts that. They could just be untrusting souls who believe someone is trying to manipulate. Some see it as a political divide; if you think you have seen it locally, five minutes in Florida or probably Texas as well will shock you. What follows are thoughts that come to mind while staring blankly at reruns on TV without anything live to follow.

I’m a science guy, like all of you. But if I weren’t, I would be convinced of the dangerousness of the contagion by casually examining the state of college and professional sports. At the time of this writing, at least two major football conferences on both ends of the country have already cancelled their seasons. They are foregoing millions, maybe even billions collectively. These were league decisions representing participants in red and blue states.

Professional baseball is in a state of disarray as teams are sidelined by positive test results. The Red Sox lost their best pitcher to cardiomyopathy related to COVID disease. Their season is already over. Several teams have loaded their schedules with doubleheaders to make up for cancelled games. The games they play are in empty parks. Let me guess that baseball team owners are fabulously wealthy and probably right-leaning where government is concerned. They are losing billions of dollars, because the well-being of the athletes is their greatest asset.

Professional football is much the same. The Patriots have already lost at least seven players who have opted out for this season. The team will likely not be very competitive, if there is a football season. The same story of huge financial losses and collective decision making applies here, as well.

Looking at Wall Street where the interests of big money are priority number one, we see forecasts laden with the potential damage caused by the ebb and flow of the COVID virus. Airlines, cruise lines, tourism, small businesses of most types are hurting enormously across the country – red and blue states alike.

In my view, it takes a great amount of strength to be a non-believer. In November, we get to play our individual roles in determining our collective path forward. Please go to the polls and choose your favored path. Then, in January we will all begin down that path together. 

Let’s hope by then, that all pharmacies will be allowed to vaccinate and test, that effective medications will be available to treat the illness, that we will know more clearly how this disease is spread, and how lasting immunity is likely to be. If you would like to advocate for pharmacy along these lines, I have seen a remarkable educational resource you can use. It is the NACDS resource on pharmacists as vaccinators

The NPSC EXPO is coming up soon on October 13 and 14. It will be hosted online with “live” ACPE credits for pharmacist and technicians. You will find more information in this e-newsletter and on our website. We are grateful for the tremendous support of the vendors who support and sponsor the show and the CEs. Please find a way to attend from the comfort of your home, office, or business.
2020 NPSC Expo & CE
Online, Interactive & Better Than Ever!
This is your opportunity to get live CE credits, attend relevant CE programs with speakers who are top in their fields, and connect online with other pharmacies in the NPSC network, as well as the staff of NPSC.

Take advantage of sponsor visits and specials, Q&A with sponsors and speakers, and THE RAFFLES!

Sign up by September 25th to get the "Swag Bag".

Welcome to NPSC
Petricone's Apothecary, New Hartford, CT
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Summer Specials End Aug 31!
Summer Specials from authorized vendors end August 31.
Take advantage of offers before they are gone.

NCPDP REMINDER: 
It is imperative that all pharmacies routinely update your pharmacy profile in NCPDP. Many of you are receiving alerts from both your PSAO and NCPDP of missing information and or expired licenses etc.  If you need assistance updating your NCPDP profile, please call Karen or Pam at NPSC and they will gladly assist you. 

Please note from the NCPDP home page: NCPDP is experiencing an extremely high volume of pharmacy updates. If you have submitted an update, it may take a couple of weeks for it to be fully processed. While the updates are in the NCPDP approval queues, they will not appear as an update on the pharmacy profile.
This does not mean your update did not go through, only that it’s waiting NCPDP approval. Your patience is very much appreciated.
News from NCPA
The FDA keeps updating that long list of toxic hand sanitizers, with the number now at 87. The culprit is sanitizers that contain methanol, or wood alcohol – a substance often used to create fuel and antifreeze that can be toxic when absorbed through the skin as well as life-threatening when ingested. Some of the sanitizers were sold nationwide at major retailers such as Walmart and Target. Pass the information on to your patients.
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The Board of Directors of NPSC voted to send a check to NCPA for $10,000 to support the Rutledge vs. PCMA Supreme Court case which will be heard in October.
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Pat Monaco and Ron Lanton have been working with a principal from Healthmart and their lobbying team along with principals from IPC and their lobbyists on Provider Status for Pharmacists at the state and federal levels.
COUNTERFEIT ALERT!

Please note that the CDC has released information on how to identify a counterfeit (non-NIOSH) mask which could compromise your safety. Click on the link to see what to look for and for tips.
Support NCPA's "Essential" Priorities
If you have not yet done so, please voice support for NCPA’s “Essential” priorities in the next COVID-19 relief package. As mentioned in last week’s Executive Update, NCPA continues to fight for inclusion of provisions that would provide liability protections to essential businesses operating in good faith, improvements to the paycheck protection program, pharmacist authority to administer COVID-19 tests and vaccines, hazard pay for frontline workers, and tax credits to offset increased costs of sanitation and protective measures. Contact your legislators and ask them to support these measures in the next COVID-19 relief package.
FROM THE DEA:
Pseudoephedrine And Listed Chemicals

Question: During the COVID-19, am I required to make customers sign a logbook to purchase over-the-counter pseudoephedrine products?

Answer: Yes. A signature to purchase pseudoephedrine (without a prescription) is required as part of the Combat Methamphetamine Epidemic Act of 2005. See 21 U.S.C. 830(e)(1)(A).

DEA understands the concern that requiring a signature for the purchase of pseudoephedrine could undermine public health efforts to combat the spread of the coronavirus. If a customer is worried about using a stylus or pen to sign the logbook, gloves or a sterilized stylus/pen could be offered for the customer to use.
Do you and your pharmacists have your own personal NPI? If you do not, it is highly recommended all community pharmacists have one as more and more States are adding some level of provider status to their regulations and using your own NPI will be required. It is easy to apply and there is no charge. 

Here is the link:  https://nppes.cms.hhs.gov/#/
If you need assistance, please contact Karen or Pam.
Reminder for CT Pharmacies
Sexual Harassment Training must be completed by October 1, 2020.

  • Employers will be required to provide to a new employee a copy of information regarding the illegality of sexual harassment and remedies available to victims.
  • Employers must provide all existing employees with two hours of training by October 1, 2020.
  • Employers must provide two hours of training and education to new employees hired on or after October 1, 2019 within six months of their start date.
  • Employers with fewer than three employees must provide two hours of training and education to all existing supervisory employees by October 1, 2020 or within six months to new supervisory employees.
  • Employers must provide periodic supplemental training not less than every ten years.

The link to the online training as well as other resources for sexual harassment prevention can be found here: https://portal.ct.gov/CHRO/Sexual-Harassment-Prevention-Training/Pages/Sexual-Harassment-Prevention-Resources
FROM THE DESK OF RON LANTON:
North Dakota Request 8th Circuit to Reconsider its PCMA v. Tufte Decision

State officials in North Dakota have filed a petition requesting that the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit reconsider its recent decision within PCMA v. Tufte. The court ruled that the Federal Employee Retirement Income Security Act or “ERISA” preempted state law regulating PBMs. North Dakota’s petition argues that the Eighth Circuit’s decision “radically expands the scope” of ERISA.

So what happened in this case? In 2017, North Dakota enacted S.B. 2258 and S.B. 2301, which among several PBM issues, addressed gag orders, clawbacks, PBM transparency, and accreditation standards. In their objective response filed through their national trade association, the Pharmaceutical Care Management Association (PCMA), the PBMs sued North Dakota in an attempt to use the courts to invalidate North Dakota’s legislative efforts.

On September 5, 2018, the North Dakota federal court decision PCMA v. Tufte was issued by Chief Judge Hovland in favor of North Dakota pharmacy. Surprisingly, PCMA filed the appeal with the Eight Circuit just two days later on September 7th. Unfortunately, this month the 8th Circuit ruled the way that it did and pharmacy stakeholders will be pushing for a full rehearing from the 8th Circuit to see if this decision can be reversed. 

While this is pending, we are currently waiting for the PCMA v. Rutledge case in the U.S. Supreme Court that will be heard this coming October. The question presented in this case which is similar to what the Eight Circuit in Tufte ruled is “Whether the Eighth Circuit erred in holding that Arkansas's statute regulating PBMs' drug-reimbursement rates, which is similar to laws enacted by a substantial majority of States, is preempted by ERISA, in contravention of this Court's precedent that ERISA does not preempt rate regulation.”

Hopefully the U.S. Supreme Court listens to the U.S. Solicitor General’s argument that the 8th Circuit was wrong. In his brief to the US Supreme Court, Solicitor General Noel Francisco disagreed with the Eighth Circuit decision, stating that the ruling was contrary to higher court’s precedent and should be reviewed and corrected. He urged the court to take up the case, siding with attorney generals from 31 states and the District of Columbia that want the US Supreme Court to reverse the Eighth Circuit’s ruling.

The Fight for Massachusetts Pharmacy Provider Status Continues

We wanted to give you an update on the battle for pharmacy provider status in Massachusetts. As the session wound down to a close, there was a last second effort to get language into H4888 that would satisfy all parties, including those in the legislature. Language was also included that addressed maximum allowable costs too. Unfortunately time ran out this session but there will be a legislative committee formed over the next few months that will try and reach a deal on healthcare. We’ll keep you posted with the latest developments.

Ron Lanton is Principal at Lanton Law and Lanton Strategies. He provides NPSC network-wide lobbying and government affairs efforts. Additionally, he is the primary lobbyist for the state of ME, and assists the state of MA with legislative activities.
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Please contact Meagan at 888-666-7271 or email: info@rxpreferred.com for more information. Stay tuned for a webinar with more information and to answer your questions!
Thank you for participating with NPSC. For additional resources and valuable information visit our website at www.northeastpharmacy.com.

Sincerely,
Northeast Pharmacy Service Corporation
Northeast Pharmacy Service Corporation
(508) 875-1866
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