Raise a glass and take a toast: you’ve made it through yet another year. As the final days of 2021 wind down, complete with family time and a good bottle of wine, we have an opportunity to reflect on all that’s happened in the last 12 months.

In light of the pandemic, 2021 proved to be a challenging year: with ongoing rules and regulations, new vaccines and boosters, and the continued hope that we could, at last, return to normal. We’ve learned in the past 365 days, though, to adapt to a new normal: protecting ourselves, our families, and our communities — hand in (sanitized) hand.

In this effort, independent pharmacists have been essential. You’ve worked around the clock to administer vaccines, dispel myths and misconceptions, and act as a trusted healthcare provider at a time that it’s needed most. At the same time, you’ve kept up the day-to-day operations of your pharmacy: from managing clinical services to overseeing staff to adapting to the ever-changing needs of your community.

It wasn’t easy, but somehow, someway, you did it. Cheers to you!

Breaking Headlines: 2021 Pharmacy Laws and Regulations

Your work didn’t stop at your pharmacy, either. All throughout the year, all across the country, independent pharmacists just like you fought for greater rights and responsibilities in the profession.

From sea to shining sea, pharmacists came together and rallied for change: in their cities, states, and even on Capitol Hill. It didn’t go unnoticed. In 2021 alone, dozens of important legal cases were presented and passed, which changed the future of pharmacy forever.

Here are a few of the most notable:

Federal Government Affirms PBM Restrictions

Of all the cases that were heard this year, Pharmaceutical Care Management Association v. Wehbi was perhaps the most important. On November 17, the Eighth Circuit of the U.S. Court of Appeals affirmed North Dakota’s decision to regulate abusive PBM practices in the state. This decision came nearly one year after the Supreme Court ruled in favor of independent pharmacies in Rutledge v. PCMA and took a the first step towards restricting PBMs in all states.

To learn more about Rutledge v. PCMA and the precedent it set for PBM regulation, check out Episode 21 of the Catalyst Pharmacy Podcast:

NCPA Files Federal Lawsuit to End DIR Fees

In April, the National Community Pharmacists Association launched NCPA v. Becerra to end DIR fees once and for all. The lawsuit addresses an exception included in a CMS rule that states “all negotiated prices [at pharmacies] must include price concessions from network pharmacies except those contingent price concessions that cannot reasonably be determined at the point of sale.” This “loophole” has allowed PBMs to take unreasonably high DIR fees from pharmacies and use them for their own benefit.

NCPA v. Becerra is an active and ongoing case, and independent pharmacy organizations like NCPA consider it their top priority in the new year.

States Expand Immunization Authorization for Pharmacists

During the pandemic, all 50 states passed legislation that allowed pharmacists to administer COVID-19 vaccines; and, in some states, to give other vaccines, too. These laws not only protected public health, but they also expanded pharmacists’ authority and marked an important step in the fight for provider status.

The National Alliance of State Pharmacy Associations (NASPA) keeps an up-to-date list of all legislation surrounding vaccinations from 2021, which can be seen here.

States Make Moves Toward PBM Reform & Provider Status

Finally, in 2021, several states created legislation to address PBM reform and provider status in their own jurisdictions. PBM cases tackled DIR fees in individual states, and provider status cases outlined specific ways to expand pharmacists’ scope of practice. NCPA recently published a complete list of legislative wins in 2021. Read it here.

To learn more about state-wide PBM reform, check out Episode 35 of the Catalyst Pharmacy Podcast, How Texas is Tackling PBM Legislation. And, to learn more about PBM reform, tune into Episode 37, Acting the Part: Pharmacists and Provider Status:

With so many monumental moments, 2021 was a historic year for pharmacy and set the stage for all that’s to come in 2022. We can’t wait to see what happens next.

To get the latest on pharmacy legislation, visit our Laws and Regulations page — your source for the most up-to-date news impacting independent pharmacies.

Making Waves: All the Action at PioneerRx

While you’ve been out making moves, we have, too. PioneerRx is honored to be the #1 choice of independent pharmacies this year, five years and counting. It didn’t happen by accident.

Day in and day out, we worked to provide you and your pharmacy with the most cutting-edge technology and customer support. Outside of the office, we advocated for independent pharmacy and fought for change right alongside you.

Here’s what we’ve been up to in the last 12 months:

We created new and innovative technology…

In an ever-changing healthcare landscape, PioneerRx adapted our technology to keep our pharmacies moving forward. This year alone, we created a number of new features and new capabilities to tackle everything from COVID-19 to communication. Here are just a few features that we rolled out this year:

Solutions like these allowed PioneerRx to stay on top in 2021. In October, we were named Flip the Pharmacy’s Technology Solutions Partner of the Year for the second year in a row making us the first, and only, pharmacy management system to win the award. Want to know why? Discover the PioneerRx difference for yourself.

We connected with new faces...

After the RedSail and PioneerRx merger late last year, 2021 gave us the opportunity to connect with pharmacists, leaders, and industry innovators around the world. In August, PioneerRx celebrated our 5,000-pharmacy milestone with the installation of Ely Drugs in Bowling, KY. PioneerRx is the most installed pharmacy management system on the market — and we only expect to keep growing in 2022.

We met up with familiar friends....

Whether on the trade show floor or under the studio lights, we had the chance to re-connect with some of the most influential people in the industry this year. We attended national conferences and state association meetings around the country (maybe we even saw you at our booth).

On the Catalyst Pharmacy Podcast, we connected with leaders like Doug Hoey (CEO of NCPA), Troy Trygstad (Executive Director of CPESN), Dan Benamoz (Founder and CEO of PDS), and even Pamela Schweitzer — the Former US Chief Pharmacist Officer.  Tune in to Pam’s episode to hear about the past, present, and future of pharmacy:

Connecting with new and old friends gave us valuable insight, information, and ideas that we used all throughout the past year, and that we will continue to use in the next.

And, most importantly, we continued our mission...

Of all the things that PioneerRx did this year, though, we worked to put independent pharmacies first — and that’s what we celebrate most.

Jeff Key, President of PioneerRx says, “I am proud of all that independent pharmacy has accomplished in 2021, and I am honored that PioneerRx has had the opportunity to play such an integral part of it. Together, we are paving the way for the future of pharmacy. 2022 will be all about increasing efficiency as we continue our mission to Save + Revitalize Independent Pharmacy. With greater efficiency, PioneerRx pharmacies can focus on what really matters: their patients.”

By Your Side, From One Year to the Next

As we close out 2021, PioneerRx reflects on all of the year’s accomplishments and looks forward to all that we’ll do, together, in the next year. While some things change, others don’t: and that’s our commitment to you and your pharmacy.

From all of us at PioneerRx, Happy New Year!

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