January 2021

Looking Beyond the Pandemic
by David Benoit
We have been living in a COVID world since the Fall. A large number of us down-sized our Thanksgiving and Christmas celebrations. The extended family was broken down into smaller units. If we were lucky enough, we did have some live contact, but we Zoomed our way through the holidays. Thankfully, Zoom removed the time cap on family meetings during the two holidays. Nevertheless, there were long stretches of aloneness. Hugs have been hard to come by.

The best Christmas presents for us all were the two vaccines that were released. Finally, it seems that pharmacists and their staff can get the vaccination. Once we get our second dose, the next step will be to begin vaccinating eligible patients, and if the opportunity presents to test for the virus, as well. More vaccine is becoming available and the challenge for distribution will be to vaccinate as many patients as possible. That is, the tightly-controlled planned distribution of the vaccines that is in place must be adapted and decentralized to include as many vaccinators as possible.

As we look toward the Spring, we expect to receive two belated Christmas presents, new vaccines.

The Jannsen division of Johnson & Johnson is targeting the end of January for data submission and request for Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) of their COVID vaccine. This is a SINGLE DOSE treatment. The product is based on the same technology that produced the Ebola vaccine, which is approved overseas, but not by the FDA (Ebola wasn’t a significant threat in the US). This COVID product is stable for up to 2 years when frozen. At this time, there is only suitable data to support stability claims at refrigerated temperatures for 90 days. This is expected to lengthen as more data are gathered and analyzed.   Effectiveness is expected to reach at least 90%. Side effects were fewer in seniors than in the 18 to 55 group. This information has been gathered on the J&J COVID website.

The AstraZeneca Oxford COVID vaccine trial estimates the primary completion by the end of March. EUA and distribution are expected to follow in April. This is a refrigerated product with a two-dose regimen at this time. ADRs appear to be very low – 0.7% in vaccinated subjects, 0.8% in the placebo-treated patients. Some patients in the trial received an initial dose that was 50% lower. All second doses were at the high dose. Curiously and inexplicably, effectiveness in the trial is currently reported as 90% in the low first dose group and 62% in the high dose group. The vaccine uses a non-replicating chimpanzee adenovirus to deliver a SARS-CoV-2 spike protein to induce an immune response. In one source or another, these are reports emanating from the company.

In a related infectious disease area, the coming influenza season is expected to be a high demand year for vaccination. It appears that the supply of flu vaccines may not be able to meet demand. The priority use of facilities for COVID vaccine production is being blamed for the situation. You might consider doing all you can to secure next season’s supply early.

Hopefully, this Spring we can begin to return to outdoor meeting and activity; tens of millions of Americans will have been vaccinated at a pace of 1,000,000 each day; the economy will continue to grow; and, independently owned, service businesses will be in full recovery. The Spring is a time for state legislatures to be in action. Let’s wish ourselves success at the State House and in Congress, as well.
Spotlight NPSC Pharmacy
Q & A with
Whole Health Pharmacy
As we begin 2021, NPSC wanted to honor the many of you that are doing great things within your communities and going the extra mile to take care of people. Each issue we will select a “spotlight” participating pharmacy sharing information on what they are doing to make personal connections and the impact that this has made in their communities.

Whole Health Pharmacy in Hyannis, MA has created a lot of consumer awareness through Covid-19 testing in their community of Cape Cod. Well-run and organized, Whole Health schedules testing through their website and gets much publicity in their town through press releases. Visitors arrive from all over Cape Cod for testing, as well as flu shots.

We asked Karryn Lewis, owner of Whole Health Pharmacy a few questions about testing, and what she has planned next in 2021.

Q: You are creating quite a buzz with Covid-19 testing in Cape Cod. How do you advertise this service?

A: Nearly all of our advertising is through word of mouth! Most of our patients refer our services to friends and family after a pleasant experience with our staff. Our pharmacy is listed as a testing location on the Mass.gov website. Our Google business page offers valuable insights about how patients find us, traffic has increased exponentially from patients searching for local testing locations.

Q: What other services are you offering at Whole Health?

A: Whole Health Pharmacy offers a diverse range of services and has evolved fluidly over time to meet the needs of various populations. We provide services to walk-in patients, as well as long term care facilities, group homes, and visiting nursing agencies. We offer a number of different multi-drug multi-dose compliance packaging systems and blister packaging to meet patient needs. Our pharmacy offers free delivery to our long term care organizations and retail patients that have a tough time getting out of the house. Our pharmacy partnered with Health & Human Services through Health Mart in early May to provide free COVID-19 testing to the community. We are currently collecting 180 tests per week and planning to increase capacity shortly.

Q: Do you work on the marketing and business plan for your store, or do you employ someone?

A: All marketing and business operations are handled in house by our staff!

Q: What is your favorite communication tool?

A: JotForm! When COVID-19 first became a serious concern in the community, we knew we had to adopt new technology to limit the physical exchange of items and information with patients. We started converting our regular patient intake forms to electronic versions utilizing the HIPAA compliant Jotform site.  As we approached fall, we suspected that immunization rates would be much higher than we had seen in the past. We knew that we would have to adapt our immunization protocols to minimize patient contact and promote social distancing by utilizing appointments. We were able to create immunization consent forms and design an appointment system integrated with our Google Calendar. This flu season we had over a 400% increase in patients vaccinated compared to previous years, electronic forms and scheduling made it an efficient and pleasant process for our patients! There were concerns about patients being willing to adopt new technology, but found that nearly all of them were willing and able! We will absolutely be utilizing these methods as the COVID-19 vaccine becomes available to the general public.

Q: What’s next in 2021?

A: Early 2021 will have a focus on COVID-19 as infection rates continue to rise. We will be expanding our testing program, and have received our first shipment of the vaccine to administer to the staff and residents at facilities we service.

Q: Do you have any advice for a pharmacy that plans to extend its services in 2021?

A: Always be willing to adapt to meet the needs of your patients or a new potential client. Don't be intimidated about your ability to provide a new service. Come up with a plan, deploy at a small scale and see where it takes you. It's a constant learning process!

Whole Health Pharmacy
596 West Main Street, Hyannis, MA

Interested in being featured as a Spotlight Pharmacy? Let us know! Email Valerie at valerie@northeastpharmacy.com and let us know what you are doing for your community!
Welcome to NPSC
Hamilton Pharmacy, Dorchester, MA
Nutmeg Pharmacy, New London, CT
NPSC Would Like to Introduce You to our New Consultant
Steve Friedman, RPh
Steven Friedman, R.Ph. President- MJAC Consulting Inc is a highly experienced pharmaceutical industry executive with multi-tasking abilities and core competencies in trade relations, manufacturer contracting, business development, sales, marketing, purchasing and merchandising. His tenures in the manufacturing, wholesale and retail pharmacy sectors have provided him with an especially well-rounded understanding of the pharmaceutical marketplace and fostered the strong skill-sets needed to accurately forecast trends and quickly respond to rapidly changing market conditions. In addition, his depth of professional experience has resulted in a steady successful results-oriented track record for generating profitable growth. As an industry expert, Steve has been a frequent public speaker and contributor at pharmaceutical conferences, public forums, and pharmacy advisory panels, and continues to enjoy a significant degree of contact with his pharmacy peers. Steve has 40 years of experience in the pharmaceutical industry having worked for companies such as Henry Schein, H.D. Smith, Pharmacy First, and PDX-NHIN Inc. During these tenures, he has received the NCPA Spirit of Independence Award, the GlaxoSmithKline Patient Care Implementation Excellence Award, the PDX- “I am PDX” Award, as well was being an Express Scripts UBC “PharmaHeroes” recipient.

Steve is working on the following projects for NPSC right now:

  • A direct generic (2ndary supplier) RFP that is going out to 5 bidders by January 15th.
  • Pulling a number of groups like NPSC together (i.e. PSSNY, Georgia Pharm Assoc.) that Steve has worked with to get a group of about 1800 stores to participate in a brand pharmaceutical sponsorship of patient POS Programs. This program will bring new revenue to the network.
  • Putting a program together with a company called Absolute AR for claims reconciliation (yes, there is money in it)
  • Preparing for our wholesaler RFP which will begin at the end of March. Our current agreements end on December 31, 2021.
  • And more to come!
ACPE Accredited
Immunization for Technicians
Looking for an accredited immunization training program for pharmacy technicians? NPTA’s Pharmacy Technician Immunization Administration Training Program has been developed to meet the training program requirements established by the HHS guidance under the PREP Act. The program is ACPE-accredited for 7 contact hours, including hands-on training.

Check your state regulations before registering.
New Hampshire

In preparation to administer the COVID-19 vaccination, pharmacies must be registered with the Vaccine Finder Program and their state Immunization Information System (IIS).
Massachusetts (MIIS):
Maine (IMMPACT):
New Hampshire (VaxNH):
Vermont (IMR):
Masks Available!
We have 3-ply disposable face masks if you need them! Please call the NPSC office to discuss availability and price.
Call: 508-875-1866
Marketing Tip:
Your Website: The New Storefront
by Valerie Kacian
As more people are confined to their homes and limiting trips out to the store, your website home page becomes more important than ever. Homepage browsing has become the new window shopping with more potential customers checking out the home page of your website before venturing out to visit or to even place a phone call of inquiry. What you showcase on your home page could be vital to your business, as well as accessing potential new customers.

Your home page is no longer the place where you simply add a photo of your storefront with contact information. Your home page is now an invitation to your customers and potential customers showcasing your services and what makes your store special. Do you offer immunizations? Include information on your home page with a link direct to scheduling an appointment. How are you addressing Covid-19? Let people know on your home page. Are you offering Covid-19 testing? Add a link to scheduling and information on your home page. Are you offering a sale or special service? The list goes on.

One way to organize yourself when considering a home page upgrade is to write down all your special services. Create links to those services, but highlight or spotlight two or three services out of the list. These may be the ones that provide scheduling for appointments or create an ease of use. Customers (and people in general) do not want to dig through your website to find information. They will simply move on to the next website in the search engine. Your home page can be a way to create a quick and easy way for customers to find what they are looking for, then click the link to dig deeper, get more information, or simply email or call the store.

A simple way to improve your home page, is to consider what items and information you provide at your storefront or window display. The display design may influence the organization and look of your home page. The flyers you display may be the content that you add to the home page.

Good luck and have fun with your design! We would love to see how you improved upon your home page. Email screenshots or web address to valerie@northeastpharmacy.com.
Pharmacy Wins Big In the U.S. Supreme Court Case of Rutledge v. PCMA

On December 10, 2020 the United States Supreme Court ruled in a unanimous 8-0 decision written by Justice Sotomayor holding that Arkansas’ Act 900 is not preempted by ERISA.

So what is the Rutledge v. PCMA case about?
Arkansas enacted a law in 2015 that required that reimbursement rates be raised if the rate fell below wholesale acquisition cost. The law also created an appeal process for pharmacies to use to challenge the reimbursement rates.

The Pharmaceutical Care Management Association (PCMA) sued on the basis that Arkansas did not have the ability to regulate the PBM as ERISA and Medicare Part D all superseded Arkansas law. The federal district court struck down half of the law in regard to ERISA plans only. This meant that the Arkansas law could not be used against private insurance plans and only Medicare Part D and state plans.

PCMA appealed this federal district court ruling in the 8th Circuit Appeals Court as to Medicare Part D. Arkansas then countered with an appeal of the ERISA preemption ruling. The 8th circuit then ruled in favor of PCMA and struck down the entire Arkansas law using ERISA as the supreme law as the reason for striking the entire law. Arkansas then appealed the law to the Supreme Court.

What did the U.S. Supreme Court decide?
Essentially, the unanimous ruling stated that not every state law against PBMs will be preempted by ERISA. This eliminates the blanket approach that PBMs had in opposing every state law that sought to achieve PBM transparency. Every argument that PCMA raised was discredited by the Court. Additionally, it is interesting that the appeals process found in Arkansas would not make the law preempted by ERISA either.

One important footnote to be aware of in the case is that Justice Sotomayor mentioned that just because PBMs contract with a variety of healthcare plans and programs does not mean that the PBM is covered by ERISA.

NPSC will continue to stand behind our network pharmacies in both passing and helping to enforce state laws that are pharmacy friendly while also fighting PBM unfairness.

Ron Lanton, III, Esq 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.
* Spotlight Vendor*
Achieve Health
Achieve Health Management offers COVID-19 testing with turnaround results in 24-48 hrs. with great accuracy.

What this means for you:
• No cost to the pharmacy for the tests
• This is a collection program that the pharmacy makes $20-$22 per test
• No CLIA waiver needed
• Lab reports results to the state
• Patient signs up and pays online, which eliminates phone calls and administrative work for the pharmacy

If you have any questions on the program or how it works please contact:

Bill Barre Chief Innovation Officer
Achieve Health Management
Fisherville Pharmacy, Penacook, NH has the following pharmacy equipment for sale. If interested, please contact MacKenzie Schroeder for details and pricing at MacKenzie@fishervillerx.com.
Parata Pass 208:

  •  About 5 years old
  •  Several canisters included
  •  A Parata maintenance plan can be purchased.
Compounding Hood

  •  4’ Labconco 3950400  
  •  Ability to be vented
  • Mobile telescopic base with Black Epoxy Top
  • About 5 years old
Thank you for participating with NPSC. For additional resources and valuable information visit our website at www.northeastpharmacy.com.

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