Pharmacy assistance approved

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, May 2, 2006

JACKSON – Northampton County is attempting to come to the aid of its local pharmacies.

During Monday morning’s meeting of the Northampton County Commissioners, Health Director Sue Gay presented a resolution asking for assistance from federally elected officials to help the plight of the county’s three local pharmacies.

Gay said the local pharmacies were struggling with Medicare Part D and asked the Board to adopt a resolution to increase payments under that program.

“County pharmacists have approached the Board of Health with concerns that payments to pharmacists under Medicare Part D are not sufficient to meet everyday expenses,” Gay told the Board.

She told the commissioners that while large pharmaceutical companies have corporate backing, the local pharmacies didn’t have that backing.

As an example, Gay said HIV clients’ medication could cost nearly $5,000 a month and it was taking as long as three months to get reimbursement to local pharmacies.

“That’s just an example of what they’re dealing with,” she said. “We are passing along our concern about how long before our private pharmacies may not be in business in Northampton County.”

According to a statement from the North Carolina Board of Pharmacy, independent pharmacies in Northampton County that serve 22,000 people will have difficulty continuing business due to sparse payments under Medicare, Gay’s decision paper indicated.

The resolution called on United States Senator Richard Burr (R-NC) and Elizabeth Dole (R-NC) and Congressman G.K. Butterfield (D-1st) to take steps to increase payments to pharmacies so they can continue to serve the population of Northampton County.

Commissioner James Hester (D-1st) made the motion to adopt the resolution with Robert V. Carter (D-4th) offering a second. The motion passed unanimously.