WASHINGTON, DC — January 24, 2005 — The Food Marketing Institute (FMI), on behalf of its supermarket members that operate nearly 15,000 in-store pharmacies throughout the U.S., commends the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) on the issuance of final regulations to implement Title I of the Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement, and Modernization Act of 2003 (MMA). The HHS regulations set standards for the new prescription drug coverage under Medicare.

“This timely initiative is very important to FMI members with pharmacies and to all senior citizens who have their prescriptions filled in a supermarket pharmacy,” commented John J. Motley, FMI senior vice president of government and public affairs. “This coverage will help make prescription drugs more affordable and accessible to the nation’s 40 million seniors and persons who are disabled, beginning January 1, 2006.”

During the 108th Congress, FMI and its member companies worked closely with the House and Senate leadership and strongly supported legislation to establish a new Medicare outpatient drug benefit for seniors. “Our industry urged Congress to enact a drug benefit that would provide meaningful coverage for seniors that would give them choices and the convenience of having their medications filled at their local community pharmacy,” Motley said.   

He added that the MMA clearly reflects these important concepts and the new benefit also means seniors will be able to continue to rely on their neighborhood pharmacists to help them understand how to take their medications safely and effectively.

The HHS regulations are extensive and are currently under review by FMI. “This was a daunting task for the Administration in view of the short time-frame for implementation of the law as passed by Congress,” Motley said. “Our industry applauds the department for promulgating the rule in such a timely fashion, and FMI plans to work with Dr. Mark McClellan, administrator for the Centers of Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), toward a smooth and successful launch of the prescription drug benefit.”