By: Steven C. Anderson, IOM, CAE, President and CEO, National Association of Chain Drug Stores
As part of NACDS’ Campaign to Advance Public Policy for Opioid-Abuse Prevention and Pharmacy’s Role as Part of the Solution, NACDS has developed four additional policy recommendations.
The new recommendations include:
· Additional prescription drug monitoring program (PDMP) reforms
· Health plan design reforms to identify patients with substance abuse disorders, and to facilitate treatment
· Improved coverage for non-opioid pain-management options
· Enabling patient access to naloxone — the overdose antidote — when opioids are prescribed.
These recommendations complement existing NACDS-backed policy recommendations, related to PDMPs, electronic prescribing, drug disposal, and supply limits for a patient’s first opioid prescription for acute, or temporary, pain. The SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act, enacted in 2018, is consistent with these recommendations. The new law is particularly strong in its requirement for e-prescribing of controlled substances under Medicare Part D. In addition, nearly half of the states now have enacted NACDS-backed e- prescribing requirements as a fraud- and abuse-prevention strategy.
Today’s operating environment includes positive developments, including significant reductions in opioid prescriptions, as found by IQVIA and reported by media outlets including Bloomberg, and a growing awareness of the substantial portion of the epidemic that is related to illegally produced and trafficked fentanyl. A Morning Consult survey commissioned by NACDS in January found that one-in-three voters believe illegal fentanyl contributes most to the epidemic, and four-in-ten cite both illegal fentanyl and legally-acquired opioids.
Still, it remains essential to work for solutions, including making policy recommendations that reflect pharmacists’ experiences on the front lines of healthcare, and that reflect longstanding collaboration with law enforcement and with other health professionals. These recommendations build on pharmacies’ ongoing focus on opioid-abuse prevention, including compliance programs, drug disposal, patient education, security initiatives, fostering naloxone access, stopping illegal online drug-sellers and rogue clinics, philanthropic programs and more.
Pharmacies share with law enforcement a somewhat unique distinction: more Americans consider pharmacies to be part of the solution than part of the problem of opioid abuse, according to the Morning Consult/NACDS survey conducted in January.
NACDS remains committed to advancing policies that help to prevent opioid abuse and addiction, while remaining sensitive to the needs of the treatment of chronic pain, and we will advocate vigorously for our new policy recommendations.
Ongoing coverage of opioid abuse prevention topics is available at NACDS.org.