November 2020
NETWORK NEWS
Greetings!

Got Covid on My Mind
by David Benoit
Disclaimer: The following article has been gleaned from reliable print news and online resources ranging from the Wall Street Journal to the New England Journal of Medicine and MSN.

You can’t go a day, perhaps even an hour without hearing about coronavirus. For a host of reasons, the spread of the virus has been accelerating at a pace almost unimaginable. On top of what is already happening, we are all beginning to move indoors and plan ahead for our holidays. This will contribute to a robust second wave of infections. The U.S. will very likely and easily surpass 200,000 cases a day by December as Doctor Fauci foretold months ago. There are still many open questions about this disease, COVID 19. What are best practices in managing patients who are hospitalized? What are the longterm consequences of having been infected in a multitude of patient populations? In other words, you get better and then what?

Also in December, we hope to see the first doses of the two front running vaccines by Pfizer and Moderna available under FDA Emergency Use Authorization for Phase I implementation. These are each two dose vaccines. Both are currently assessed by an outside party as at least 90% effective. Both are based on messenger RNA technology, which appears to have a very favorable safety profile, as well. If the clinical trials roll on with the current high rate of coronavirus infection, they will easily have enough infections to submit for approval by the FDA in just a few more months. By spring, we should also know more about how long antibody levels are maintained. This will allow for a better understanding of the vaccines’ protection from infection and severe illness. Time will tell if additional doses will be necessary or desirable. This is just the beginning of COVID prevention; down the road single dose vaccines may become available.

As you probably know, the Pfizer vaccine must be stored at -94°F. It is expected to ship in lots of 1,000 vials in dry ice which will keep it for ten days. The vaccine will still be effective for five more days in a refrigerator. I have read that Pfizer hopes to overcome the super cold storage problem by developing the product into a dry powder. Hopefully, this could be stored at room temperature. This suggests that super cold storage is only a temporary solution at best.

The Moderna product must be stored at freezing temperatures, -4F is recommended. We still expect to see shipping in lots of 1,000. I learned recently that the product is good for thirty days in the refrigerator.

There are at least 4 other vaccines in clinical trials and over 100 in earlier phases of development. There are at least three other technology strategies for developing vaccine candidates.

What will be your role? Will you be involved with specimen collection for testing, which does not require CLIA waiver? Could you be an actual testing location, assuming waived technology becomes available and you have a CLIA waiver? We hear that collection fees range from $20 to into the $30s. Not certain about testing because a waived test doesn’t yet exist. Are you a vaccinator? Will you add COVID vaccine to your list?

Whatever you have decided, make sure that everyone in your community knows what you are going to do or what you are doing. Market and differentiate yourself, whatever that looks and sounds like for you. (See below for tips on email marketing.) Your patients need your help now more than ever.
Thank You for Attending!
2020 NPSC Expo & CE
We would like to thank you for attending the 2020 Online Expo & CE program in October.

Reminder: The date to obtain CE credit is December 6, 2020. (If you attended the Expo, you received information on obtaining credit. )

Questions? Contact Valerie at valerie@northeastpharmacy.com.
Welcome to NPSC
Corporate Pharmacy, Shelton, CT
First Choice Health Center Pharmacy, East Hartford, CT
Milford Pharmacy and Home Care, Milford, CT
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):
FWA Annual Training and NCPDP Update
Due 12/31/2020
As a reminder, all pharmacies must complete the annual FWA training. The link to the training can be found here:  https://learner.mlnlms.com/Default.aspx
Once completed, you must attest that the training has been completed in your NCPDP profile. 

If you need assistance, Please reach out to Karen or Pam at NPSC.
Updated DEA Pharmacist's Manual
The DEA released an updated Pharmacist’s Manual in October. The manual can be found here:
 
Marketing Tip: Email Marketing
by Valerie Kacian
Don’t believe the lies. Email is not dead. In fact, it’s very much alive. Many of us turn to social media spending loads of time crafting messages and designing images despite not actually knowing who will actually see our messages. As algorithms on Facebook and Instagram continue to develop, you may find yourself looking for a mode of connecting with your customers in a more direct and personal way. 

In comes email. Chances are your customer checks email several times a day, has set up notifications for email messages or has practically run a tap straight to the bloodstream for constant access. Your customers chance of seeing your email and expecting email from you are pretty high. More than likely they have signed up for email in store or on your website and thus have “opted in” to hear from you.

So, where do you go from here. Here are some steps to get started:

  1. Set out your calendar and decide how frequently you would like to email your list. It could be a monthly newsletter or weekly updates.
  2. Decide which email service you would like to use. If you store your email in a Gmail or Outlook account, you will want to upgrade to a service that allows you to track who opens and clicks through to links you add to the email. Common services are: Constant Contact – www.constantcontact.com, ConvertKit – www.convertkit.com (free options), Mailchimp – www.mailchimp.com (free options)
  3. Export your email list over to the service you have selected, and you are off and running

If you are new to email marketing, the process can be overwhelming. Start small and less frequently, and expand as you become more accustomed to the process. Not sure what to write? Brain storm some ideas of what you offer your customers, items you may want to highlight (or just get rid of), reminders, updates, staff spotlight, and more.

If you have additional questions as to how you can effectively use email marketing, feel free to contact the NPSC office or email me at valerie@northeastpharmacy.com.

Third Party Tidbits
by David Benoit
Audits by plans have been abundant and difficult for some. All audits are done remotely relying on fax and email rather than in store. That, one might think, should make them more user friendly. But, quite the opposite has occurred in a number of time consuming cases.

An audit by ESI (for the second time that I am aware of) found that e-scripts were invalid Rxs for a variety of reasons. Ultimately, the vendor was able to put all the critical elements onto the first screen, so that screenshots would be fully compliant of the e-script record.

Another audit earlier in the year discovered that a pharmacy was buying omeprazole at retail and billing it as an Rx product. Recently, that pharmacy was terminated in one plan’s network.

A review by one of the PSAOs found that a clinic pharmacy was not an “open” retail operation. Claiming that their third party contracts represented their network to be comprised of open community retail pharmacies, the PSAO provided a termination notice to the clinic pharmacy. The pharmacy asked for a 90-day transition, which was granted.

EnvisionRx will not be the PBM for BMCHP in 2021. Their successor is ESI.
WellCare is completely moving into a new network (NTWK 77) which NPSC is going to participate in next year.

Siverscript 2021 will remain the same from the pharmacy perspective, but it will be rebranded as an Aetna product.
North Haven Pharmacy Featured in the "2020 NCPA Digest"
North Haven Pharmacy was featured in the latest edition of "2020 NCPA Digest". Gerry Acampora discusses how his family pharmacy is truly run and operated by many members of his family including his wife, daughter, and brother.

North Haven Pharmacy's first priority is the patients. They offer a number of ways to support their community including supplements, CBD, gifts and health and beauty items, medication synchronization, and refills online. Click below and log into NCPDP to read the full article on how Gerry and his family approach the stresses and changes in pharmacy.
CT LEGISLATIVE UPDATE
Kevin Hill, NPSC Lobbyist
The Election on November 3rd brought further changes to the political and policy landscape in Connecticut. Democrats have a 24-12 advantage in the State Senate and a 97-54 advantage in the State House of Representatives. There will also be new leaders in three of the four legislative caucuses. The General Assembly leadership will consist of: Speaker Matt Ritter (D), House Majority Leader Jason Rojas (D), Minority Leader Vincent Candelora (R), President Pro Tem Martin Looney (D), Senate Majority Leader Bob Duff (D), Senate Minority Leader Kevin Kelly (R). 
  
Committee chairs are slowly being announced in the House and we will see significant changes as to who the decision makers are at the committee level. Of note, Rep. Sean Scanlon (D), who previously chaired the Insurance Committee, will now chair the powerful Finance, Revenue and Bonding Committee. 
  
We have been continuing to discuss COVID vaccine distribution and administration with the State. The House chair of the Public Health Committee did not want any pharmacists to administer a COVID vaccine but after weeks of educating and developing a coalition of stakeholders, has agreed to allow pharmacists to administer the incoming vaccines. 
  
The process of distributing the vaccine is still very fluid in the State. We have met with the Department of Consumer Protection and they have relayed information to us regarding how pharmacists can register, administer and bill for a COVID vaccine. 
  
We are in the midst of setting up a meeting with the Department of Public Health to get more information on the CT WIZ system with which all COVID vaccinating pharmacies in CT must register. 

Kevin Hill is an NPSC lobbyist in CT with Powers, Griffin & Hill. He is working hard for you to be sure your voice is heard in CT legislature.
CT: Covid-10 Vaccine Survey
The CT DPH has issued a survey Wednesday, November 18 to determine the role that CT pharmacies would play in the vaccination response. Please plan to click the button below to complete the 7 minute survey.
FROM THE DESK OF RON LANTON:
New Pharmacist in Congress:

This election has brought Diana Harshbarger (R-TN) into Congress who is serving as the first woman pharmacist elected to Congress. She’ll serve alongside Congressman Buddy Carter (R-GA).

Massachusetts

The Massachusetts House of Representatives has proposed a $46 billion state budget, with the main topics of discussion being education, food security and substance abuse services. We will continue to monitor the situation to see if we can advocate for any pharmacy issues at this time.
As we look ahead to 2021, I will be working with Pat Monaco and the NPSC Board to chart the best course of action for pharmacy provider status.

Connecticut

The Connecticut legislature finalized its leadership positions for 2021. Senate Democrats in the Connecticut Legislature will continue to be led by Martin Looney. Senator Looney, who represents New Haven, was re-elected to lead the Caucus as Senate President Pro Tempore. Norwalk Senator Bob Duff was re-elected as Democrat Majority Leader. Senator Kevin Kelly is the new Senate Minority Leader for the Senate Republicans. East Lyme Senator Paul Formica is the deputy leader.

Due to the November 2020 election, the Democrats now have majorities of 98-53 in the House and 24-12 in the Senate.

New Vermont Collaborative Practice Law
Vermont Gov. Phil Scott (R) signed S 220 to increase the public’s access to health care services at community pharmacies. The bill grants expansive practice authority under a collaborative practice agreement and statewide protocols for various services.

Rhode Island Legislature

Senator Michael J. McCaffrey has been chosen to serve another term as Senate Majority Leader. The Democrats also endorsed Senator Dominick J. Ruggerio as the Caucus nominee for President of the Senate. The vote for President of the Senate will be taken by all members of the Chamber on the first day of the 2021-2022 session.

Senators Ruggerio and McCaffrey outlined new priorities in their remarks and added that they will continue to fight to codify the Affordable Care Act into state law. Among the new priorities they hope to pass early in 2021 are a living wage, a more equitable tax structure, adult cannabis use, and the Economic and Climate Resilient Act.

Below are a list of the remaining leadership posts:

● Senator Maryellen Goodwin, Majority Whip
● Senator Ana B. Quezada, Deputy Majority Whip
● Senator Cynthia A. Coyne, Chairperson of the Judiciary Committee
● Senator Ryan W. Pearson, Chairperson of the Finance Committee
● Senator V. Susan Sosnowski, Chairperson of the Commerce Committee
● Senator Dawn Euer, Chairperson of the Environment & Agriculture Committee
● Senator Sandra Cano, Chairperson of the Education Committee
● Senator Joshua Miller, Chairperson of the Health & Human Services Committee
● Senator Frank Lombardo, III, Chairperson of the Housing & Municipal Government Committee
● Senator Frank A. Ciccone, III, Chairperson of the Labor Committee
● Senator Walter S. Felag, Jr., Chairperson of the Special Legislation & Veterans Affairs Committee
● Senator Louis P. DiPalma, Chairperson of the Rules, Government Ethics and Oversight Committee

Maine Legislature

After the election it looks as though pharmacy has an edge in Maine to continue exploiting PBMs. Democrats have an 88-67 member advantage in the House while Democrats enjoy a 22-13 vote total in the Senate. Senate Leadership has already voiced to me that they want to do an anti-steering bill. We may be able to convince the legislature into addressing other PBM issues

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.
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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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