National Consumers League

NCL health policy updates | Health Advisory Council Newsletter | 2018 Q4

NCL health policy at work

Counterfeit drugs

NCL continues to have a strong focus on counterfeit drugs. On October 5, NCL’s Senior Director of Health Policy Karin Bolte participated in a panel presentation on Ensuring Safe Drugs at Women In Government’s Ninth Annual Healthcare Summit. NCL provided an overview of the risks of counterfeit drugs and improperly compounded drugs, and discussed ways in which the states can better protect their residents from unsafe drugs.

At the Alliance for Safe Online Pharmacies (ASOP) Global’s November 14th Spotlight on Illegal Online Drug Sales Research Symposium, NCL Executive Director Sally Greenberg presented the results of consumer research and joined with Bayer in releasing a White Paper that explores the risks consumers face when purchasing erectile dysfunction (ED) medicines from illegal online pharmacies and provides policy recommendations for increasing safe access to ED medicines.

NCL is also pleased to announce that Allergan has recently joined Eli Lilly, PhRMA, and Pfizer as supporters of NCL’s Counterfeit Drugs Consumer Education Campaign. We anticipate launching the campaign in the fall of 2019, and are still seeking additional campaign partners. Please contact Karin Bolte at karinb@nclnet.org for information about how your organization can join this resource-rich platform to educate consumers on making smart purchasing decisions and improve understanding about how to avoid the scourge of counterfeit drugs.

Alliance for Advancing Women’s Health

In October, NCL joined with other leading national women’s health and sexual health organizations in announcing the launch of the Alliance for Advancing Women’s Health (AAWH), a new collaborative initiative to advance women’s sexual healthcare by improving the interaction between clinicians and patients about sexual health. Sally Greenberg, NCL’s Executive Director, is serving as the Co-Chair of the Alliance, along with Sheryl Kingsberg, PhD, President, North American Menopause Society and Division Chief of Behavioral Medicine, University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center. Surveys of patients and healthcare professionals found that most women (73 percent) preferred their clinician to broach the topic of sexual health, while most clinicians (74 percent) relied on their patients to initiate the conversation. NCL will work with its AAWH partners to help bridge this gap and improve women’s sexual health outcomes.

Fighting the opioid epidemic 

Continuing our focus on the opioid epidemic, on October 30 in Chicago, NCL’s Senior Director of Health Policy Karin Bolte joined Illinois state legislators and allies for the launch of Rx Abuse Leadership Initiative (RALI) - Illinois, a broad-based coalition of more than 20 local, state, and national organizations dedicated to finding solutions to end the opioid crisis in the state. NCL is committed to partnering with RALI to educate consumers about the safe use and disposal of opioids and resources available to support addiction prevention, treatment, and recovery services for those in need. 

PhRMA Patient Affordability Platform Working Group

In October, NCL joined a working group composed of colleagues in the consumer, patient, and healthcare provider communities – including CancerCare, National Alliance on Mental Illness, National Community Pharmacists Association, National Hispanic Council on Aging, National Medical Association, and others – to advise PhRMA on its development of a new patient affordability platform that will launch in Spring 2019. The new platform will include resources such as the following:

  • An enhanced search tool that will include medicine-specific cost and affordability information;
  • Information on how to access company-specific patient assistance and other forms of cost-sharing support; and
  • Resources to help patients navigate their insurance coverage.

The goal is to provide information that patients need in order to make more informed healthcare decisions.

Promoting Open Enrollment

In preparation for Open Enrollment, NCL worked with America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP) to update and add new content to our joint MyHealthPlan.guide website, which provides consumers with easy-to-access, straightforward information to determine the health insurance coverage that is right for them and how to best use it to meet their personal health needs. NCL’s Health Policy and Programs Associate Nissa Shaffi encouraged consumers to enroll in coverage in her November 1 blog, and NCL also promoted Open Enrollment in the Marketplace through its social media channels.

CDC PROTECT Initiative

Along with many of NCL’s partners, on November 8-9, Karin Bolte, NCL’s Senior Director of Health Policy, had the privilege of attending the 11th annual meeting of the CDC’s PROTECT Initiative. The PROTECT Initiative takes a 3-pronged approach to keeping children < 5 years old safe from unintentional medication overdoses:

  • Packaging Improvements to prevent or minimize exposure to medication when young children find and try to ingest medications on their own (unsupervised medication ingestions);
  • Error Prevention through standardization of medication labels and dosing devices; and
  • Education on Safe Medication Use and Storage to remind parents and caregivers about the importance of safe medication storage, how to store medications safely, and what to do in the case of an emergency.

To address the problem of patients taking their medicines out of the original container, PROTECT plans to expand the Up and Away Campaign messaging to include educational information for parents, grandparents, and caregivers about safely storing medicines while in use. In addition, PROTECT will seek to partner with pharmacists and nurses to deliver these important safety messages. NCL looks forward to continuing to work with the CDC and its partners to build upon the PROTECT program’s success in reducing unintentional medication overdoses among young children.