NCPA: Better Health, Lower Costs through "Medication Synchronization"

Dec 11, 2014, 13:29 ET from National Community Pharmacists Association

ALEXANDRIA, Va., Dec. 11, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The following statement was released today by B. Douglas Hoey, RPh, MBA, CEO of the National Community Pharmacists Association:

Former Surgeon General C. Everett Koop once stated "drugs don't work in patients who don't take them," which succinctly sums up the problem of prescription non-adherence, or not taking medications as prescribed. A new program, known as medication synchronization or "med sync," to tackle this issue has enormous potential to benefit you or your loved ones.

Visit to find one of the more than 5,000 U.S. pharmacies participating nationwide.

A 2013 study, entitled Medication Adherence in America: An Annual Report Card found that:

  1. Americans over 40 with chronic conditions received only a C+ grade on adherence with 1 in 7 receiving an F.
  2. The leading indicator of whether a patient will adhere to their medication is their personal relationship with the pharmacist or pharmacy staff.

Moreover, separate studies have shown that medication non-adherence costs the health care system as much as $290 billion per year by necessitating costlier treatments which could have been avoided if patients adhered to their medication regimen.

Independent community pharmacists are, perhaps, best positioned to alleviate this problem. They routinely make it a priority to know their patients and to be readily accessible to them.

While personal relationships with patients are important, many community pharmacies also offer programs that further promote adherence, including med sync.

Med sync allows pharmacists to work with patients and insurers so the refill date for all of the patient's medications falls on the same day each month, allowing the patient to make fewer trips to the pharmacy, and making it more convenient for them so stay current with their medications. This program also has the added benefit of allowing patients, or their caregivers, to receive more in depth consultations from the pharmacist, such as information on proper use of the medication or in mitigating side effects. For example, Simplify My Meds® is a med sync program in which many independent community pharmacies participate.

Unfortunately, barriers to these programs exist. While federal officials have taken steps to avail Medicare Part D beneficiaries of this service and four states have enacted legislation affecting commercial plans, not all patients have access to med sync programs. This is because some commercial plans will not cover "short fills," which would allow pharmacies to fill a prescription for less than 30 days to align future refill dates.

However, there is no reason any plan should erect barriers to such services. Med sync is a win-win-win for patients, pharmacies, and insurance plans alike. For Medicare Part D plans, three of the five pharmacy quality measures they are evaluated on to determine their "star rating" involve adherence measures. Med sync helps boosts patient adherence, which in turn boost star ratings which make plans more attractive to seniors.  For commercial plans, supporting programs that promote greater adherence can help avoid the more costly treatments associated with non-adherence.

Prescription non-adherence is a serious problem, and med sync is one tool available to address it. However, pharmacists, patients and payers must work together to take advantage of this service. Just as prescription drugs don't work in patients who don't take them, med sync programs don't work for patients whose insurance companies raise barriers or for those who do not have a local pharmacy that offers the service.

The National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA®) represents the interests of America's community pharmacists, including the owners of nearly 23,000 independent community pharmacies. Together they represent an $88.8 billion health care marketplace, dispense nearly 40% of all retail prescriptions, and employ more than 300,000 individuals, including over 62,000 pharmacists. To learn more go to or read NCPA's blog, The Dose, at

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SOURCE National Community Pharmacists Association