I have spent the last few days wading through the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ (CMS) response to public comments on consultant pharmacist independence. Based on what I have read, I believe ASCP has been given a prime opportunity to take the lead on addressing very strong and disconcerting comments about the value of consultant pharmacists’ services. We must get out front and lead this charge! There is common ground with other LTC stakeholders on this issue and we will work with them to gather the data necessary to respond to CMS’s concerns. I also look forward to the opportunity to develop industry-wide quality measures through collaboration with quality standards organizations, such as the Pharmacy Quality Alliance (PQA).
In reaction to CMS’s response, some are saying we dodged a bullet. I don't see CMS’s response in this light. I think their response is perhaps a warning to turn things around or face more regulations down the road!
Below you will find a summary of what CMS said in its response to public comments and ASCP’s corresponding Action Steps. I hope you will join me in actively engaging in advocating for our profession and our patients.
Penny Shelton, PharmD, CGP, FASCP
Summary of CMS Response on Consultant Pharmacist Independence
CMS has decided not to finalize a requirement for consultant pharmacists to be independent from LTC pharmacies, pharmaceutical manufacturers, distributors or their affiliates at this time. However CMS remains convinced that problems associated with conflicts of interest persist throughout the LTC setting, and that broader changes beyond consultant pharmacist independence are necessary in order to ensure patient safety and quality of care. CMS expects the full LTC industry to immediately take steps to improve transparency and reduce the prevalence of unnecessary drugs and drug overutilization in nursing facilities, particularly with respect to off-label use of atypical antipsychotics. CMS plans to implement requirements for nursing facilities to prevent problems associated with conflicts of interest in a future notice and comment rulemaking. In the interim, CMS solicits additional feedback from the public through a series of questions. Public comments are due 60 days from the date of publication in the Federal Register.
To see all the information, visit the LTC Rule page.