Video: PCMA's New E-Prescribing Ad Campaign: 'Each Year We Wait, More People Die'

Ad is a 'Wake Up Call' to Refocus the Medicare Debate on Patients, Not Just Providers

WASHINGTON, April 29 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Calling e-prescribing "the most important issue to patients in the current Medicare debate," the Pharmaceutical Care Management Association (PCMA) today unveiled a new TV, print, and online ad campaign urging policymakers to require the use of electronic prescribing (e-prescribing) in Medicare "before more people die." The new ad, featuring a woman mourning at a gravesite, highlights the fact that more than 7,000 people die every year because of medication errors.

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"This ad is a wake up call to refocus the Medicare debate on patients, not just the providers who serve them. From a patient's perspective, e-prescribing is by far the most important issue in the current Medicare debate because it could save their life or the life of someone they love," said PCMA President and CEO Mark Merritt. "Yet the debate focuses almost exclusively on providers, not patients. That needs to change.

"Meeting the financial needs of providers is important, but meeting the safety needs of patients is more important. Fortunately, e-prescribing addresses both issues since it saves lives and money," added Merritt.

In December, the bipartisan "Medicare Electronic Medication and Safety Protection (E-MEDS) Act of 2007" that would require e-prescribing in Medicare was introduced by Senate Finance Committee Members John Kerry (D-Mass.) and John Ensign, (R-Nev.). The legislation enjoys support from 12 additional co-sponsors, including Senators Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), John Sununu (R-NH), Joe Lieberman, (I-Conn.), and Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.). Companion legislation was introduced in the House by Representatives Allyson Schwartz, (D-Penn.) and Jon Porter, (R-Nev.) and currently has 29 total co-sponsors. Both bills are supported by a broad coalition of consumers, unions, businesses, purchaser groups, and other prescription drug stakeholders.

For the past year, PCMA has been leading the charge to require electronic prescribing in Medicare. To jumpstart the debate, PCMA released a study from the Gorman Health Group showing that e-prescribing could prevent up to 1.9 million medication errors and save the federal government billions over the next decade -- even after providing physicians funds for equipment, training, and technical support.

In addition, PCMA launched a TV ad featuring Institute of Medicine (IOM) expert panelist J. Lyle Bootman that called on policymakers to require e-prescribing in Medicare. Dr. Bootman co-chaired an IOM committee that recommended that all physicians begin using e-prescribing by 2010 to help reduce the estimated 1.5 million preventable medication errors that occur in the United States annually. The IOM, in making its recommendations, cited the high number of adverse drug events that result from the present system of hand-written prescriptions - as well as the number of dangerous drug interactions that could be stopped if physicians utilized electronic prescribing.

Eighty-one percent of physicians say widespread use of e-prescribing would reduce medication errors. Unfortunately, fewer than one-in-ten physicians currently use the technology.

The first step toward electronic health records (EHRs) is to require e-prescribing in Medicare. E-prescribing technology is ready for widespread adoption following the recent release of the final electronic prescribing standards in Medicare by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). CMS estimates that adoption of e-prescribing would reduce adverse drug events (ADEs); provide increased administrative savings to physicians and pharmacists; and enhance generic utilization. E-prescribing technology enjoys strong support from the Administration, with Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Mike Leavitt stating that the e-prescribing standards are in place and that "it's time" to adopt the technology.

PCMA is the national association representing America's pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs), which administer prescription drug plans for more than 210 million Americans with health coverage provided through Fortune 500 employers, health insurance plans, labor unions, and Medicare Part D.

SOURCE Pharmaceutical Care Management Association