Pharmacists Express Concerns with Sen. Casey's Proposal to Restrict Access to Cough Medication

Published Online: Friday, March 22, 2013
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Alexandria, Va. March 22, 2013 - Pharmacist and Senior Vice President for Government Affairs John Coster, RPh, PhD of the National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA) issued the following statement today regarding S. 644, a legislative proposal introduced by U.S. Sen. Robert Casey (D-Pa.) that would impact patients and the pharmacists who provide access to hundreds of common cough suppressants and other medical products containing Dextromethorphan (DXM):

"Community pharmacies support and actively contribute to practical efforts to reduce the abuse of DXM-containing products and other medicines. The reduction in the abuse of these products is a responsibility that should be shared by all affected parties—manufacturers, pharmacies, patients and others.

"We applaud Sen. Casey's efforts to develop an approach that would try to reduce the potential abuse of these products while not imposing onerous burdens on small businesses. We remain concerned, however, that this legislation will in fact ultimately place unfunded burdens on small pharmacies. The cost of affected cough relief products may increase for consumers as a result of the mandates this legislation would place on pharmacies.

"We want to remind policymakers that there are approximately 800 DXM-containing products. If enacted, this legislation would likely prompt many pharmacies to take them off of pharmacy shelves and to place them behind the counter. These small businesses already struggle to comply with federal and state regulations, but this bill would further burden them.

"In addition, the bill does not adequately address mail order sales of these items, or ask manufacturers to help pay for the costs of these proposed mandates. Moreover, the measure requires the Food and Drug Administration to enforce the legislation, but the agency already has difficulty meeting its current obligations and does not normally oversee state-licensed pharmacists.

"Pharmacists are highly trained medication experts who can help reduce costs and ensure patients take their medication properly. However, this bill would undermine pharmacists' ability to provide these and other patient care services. We look forward to working with Senator Casey on trying to find other mechanisms to address this problem."

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