Proposed legislation creates parity for community pharmacies; keeps $7 billion in economic stimulus and over 25,000 jobs in Keystone State.

  A proposed bill in Pennsylvania's Senate and House of Representatives is the "booster shot" local pharmacies need to compete with mail order prescription plans. The legislation allows individuals to have their prescriptions filled by either mail-order or their community pharmacist for the exact same price, which will result in keeping billions of dollars in Pennsylvania, while saving and tens of thousands of jobs throughout the state.

To inform consumers about this crucial piece of legislation and encourage them to contact their government representatives about having equal choice for their prescriptions, PARD, An Association of Independent, Community Pharmacies, is launching its "Prescription for Choice" campaign. Beginning on September 12th, area pharmacies such as Rapoport Pharmacy on Bustleton Avenue in Philadelphia will offer materials highlighting the value of working with a local pharmacist.

"A decision as important as how to order your medicine shouldn't be left up to the insurance companies, but rather firmly placed in the hands of the consumer," says Barry Jacobs, Executive Director, PARD. "Prescription for Choice is about putting the emphasis back on preference and convenience, rather than looking at the bottom line."

Currently, drug prescription benefits of health insurance plans heavily promote the use of out-of-state mail order companies, even charging individuals more to fill their prescriptions at a local pharmacist. This policy negatively impacts community pharmacies, as prescription volume accounts for over 90 percent of their business. Based on 2009 prescription drug data provided by IMS Health, a leading provider of information services for the healthcare industry, over $7 billion of economic stimulus leaves Pennsylvania due to the use of mail order drug companies. Not only does this policy create jobs out-of-state, estimated job losses in Pennsylvania will exceed 26,000.

These numbers, while staggering, cannot truly define the real value of working one-on-one with a local pharmacist. Local pharmacists have the ability to personally interact with their patients, using internal checks and knowledge of an individual's medication history to identify issues and deal with emergencies quickly and with a home-town touch.

"The most important role local pharmacists play is that of an accessible patient resource. We've known many of our customers for years and can truly be an advocate for them," says Jeff Moskowitz, owner of Rapoport Pharmacy. "Pharmacists ensure that prescriptions are filled in a timely matter and that any new medicine will not adversely impact a patient's current drug regimen."

This is particularly poignant as cases of severe drug interaction continue to increase. According to new data from the Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN), emergency room visits involving the misuse or abuse of pharmaceutical drugs have doubled over the past five years. In 2009, there were approximately 1.2 million visits to emergency rooms involving pharmaceutical drugs.

Through the Prescription for Choice campaign, PARD is urging individuals to contact their legislators to support House Bill 511 and Senate Bill 211, which levels the playing field for the countless locally owned pharmacies throughout Pennsylvania. To identify your legislator, visit http://www.legis.state.pa.us. ~ prnewswire.com ~