National Consumers League

NCL health policy updates | Health Advisory Council Newsletter | 2017 Q1

Defending the ACA and Medicaid

As part of the Protect Our Care coalition, NCL was actively engaged in the nationwide effort to protect the Affordable Care Act and Medicaid. Through press releasesletters, and social media, NCL joined with its colleagues in the consumer, patient, and public health communities in the successful effort to beat back the House GOP’s health plan, which would have resulted in millions of Americans losing coverage and paying more for less. In January, NCL also joined the effort to encourage consumers to enroll in the 2017 Health Insurance Exchanges prior to the January 31 deadline.

Script Your Future Medication Adherence Team Challenge

In January, NCL launched the sixth annual Medication Adherence Team Challenge. From January 16 through March 17, inter-professional teams—including student pharmacists, nurses, doctors, and others—implemented creative outreach activities in their communities to raise awareness and improve understanding about medication adherence, using Script Your Future. 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 about the importance of medication adherence. Stay tuned for NCL’s announcement of this year’s winners in May.

Sally Greenberg receiving Champions of Access award

Generic drugs
This February, the Association for Accessible Medicines (AAM) (previously the Generic Pharmaceutical Association) honored NCL with the prestigious “Champion of Access" award at its annual meeting in Orlando, FL. NCL and Executive Director Sally Greenberg (pictured at right) were recognized for their work advocating for programs and policies that promote low-cost, effective drugs that benefit patients as well as the American healthcare marketplace. Over the decade from 2006-2015, the use of generic drugs saved the U.S. healthcare system approximately $1.46 trillion. To reduce out-of-pocket costs while receiving the same quality of care, NCL encourages consumers to ask their healthcare providers if there is a generic version of their prescription available.

Vaccines
Building on NCL’s long history of advocating for life-saving vaccines, NCL issued a statement opposing the appointment of anti-vaccination activist Robert F. Kennedy Jr. to chair a vaccine safety or autism commission, as well as a guest blog on the appointment. NCL also promoted the importance of vaccines on our social media channels and joined a letter organized by the American Academy of Pediatrics urging Congress to ensure that HHS Secretary Tom Price is “committed to protecting the citizens of this nation from vaccine preventable diseases.”

Counterfeit drugs
NCL joined the Alliance for Safe Online Pharmacies (ASOP Global) as an Observer member, and participated in both of its campaigns to educate senior citizens and healthcare providers about the dangers of counterfeit drugs. In addition, NCL coordinated sign-on letters to the Appropriations and Energy and Commerce Committees on the continued need for FDA’s Office of Criminal Investigation’s important work in protecting consumers and pursuing criminal enterprises that are illegally selling and distributing drugs not approved for sale in the United States.

Right to Try legislation
NCL has been coordinating with our colleagues in the consumer and patient communities to reach out to Congress to express opposition to the Trickett Wendler Right to Try Act of 2017 (S.204/H.R. 878), which would place vulnerable patients at risk. Right to Try laws are designed to grant terminally ill patients the “right to try” an unapproved drug or medical device. However, as NCL Executive Director Sally Greenberg explains in The Huffington Post, FDA’s existing expanded access program achieves the right balance between facilitating patient access to unapproved drugs and providing appropriate protections for patients, without undermining the clinical trials process. While we are all committed to ensuring new treatments and therapies are available to patients, we must not sacrifice safety by passing this federal Right to Try bill.