National Consumers League

NCL health policy updates | Health Advisory Council Newsletter | 2016 Q2

NCL joins campaign to educate seniors about buying drugs safely online – In June, NCL joined with the Alliance for Safe Online Pharmacies and the Center for Safe Internet Pharmacies in launching XtheRisk.com to educate seniors and their caregivers about how to protect themselves against counterfeit drugs and safely buy drugs online. A recent review of more than 11,000 websites selling prescription medications online to U.S. consumers found approximately 96 percent do not comply with U.S. laws and 50 percent of medicines sold online are fake or counterfeit. In conjunction with its partners, NCL is providing tips to help consumers stay safe and encouraging them to buy from websites ending in .pharmacy, which are verified by the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP). In addition, online pharmacies that display the VIPPS (Verified Internet Pharmacy Practice Sites) seal have successfully undergone NABP’s rigorous screening process. 

OTC monograph user fees – On June 10, Sally Greenberg, NCL executive director, testified before the FDA in support of user fees for over-the-counter (OTC) drugs. OTC drugs play a vital role in keeping consumers healthy and helping them to feel better when they’re sick. The FDA OTC Division is seriously under-resourced. Additional funding for this division would enable the agency to finalize review of OTC ingredients and address safety issues faster and more efficiently. In addition, a user fee program could benefit both consumers and industry by allowing for more timely review of innovations and new ingredients, ultimately leading to the availability of new and improved OTC options. NCL offered two notes of caution: we asked the FDA to ensure that the program not squeeze out smaller companies who might not have the resources for high user fees and that strong scientific evidence accompany any approval and that a company’s ability or willingness to pay into the fund must not provide easier access to approval.

syf_challenge_pic.pngScript Your Future Medication Adherence Team Challenge – In May, NCL announced the winners of the 5th Annual Medication Adherence Team Challenge, a competition that encourages health profession students and faculty across the nation to develop creative ideas, events, and initiatives to raise public awareness about the importance of medication adherence.

This year’s winners are the University of Charleston School of Pharmacy, pictured at right, (National Challenge Award), University of Pittsburgh School of Pharmacy (National Challenge Award), Northeast Ohio Medical University (NEOMED) (Health Disparities/Under-represented Community Outreach Award), University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC-Chapel Hill) (Communication and Media Outreach Award), and the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy (Creative Inter-Professional Team Event Award).

Hundreds of future health care professionals from 75 participating educational institutions held more than 320 events in 19 states, counseled more than 12,000 patients, and reached more than 2.3 million consumers nationwide. Since the Challenge began in 2011, more than 9,500 future health care professionals have directly counseled more than 34,000 patients and reached more than 11 million consumers.

21st Century Cures/Innovation for Healthier Americans – NCL is continuing to work with colleagues in the patient, consumer, and health advocacy communities to monitor legislation that is part of the Senate’s Innovation for Healthier Americans initiative. While we fully support innovation and approval of safe and effective medications, NCL joins with other consumer and patient groups in wanting to ensure that speeding approval of new medical products does not come at the expense of patient safety. Finding that happy medium is critically important.