Officials with NCPA Applaud Opioid Relief Package, Which President Expected to Sign

OCTOBER 06, 2018
Colleen Hall
Officials with the National Community Pharmacists Association this week called the opioid relief package that is awaiting President Trump's signature "vital." 

In a prepared statement, CEO B. Douglas Hoey, Pharmacist, MBA, commented on the Senate's passage of the bipartisan legislation, the SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act (HR 6), comprehensive legislation aimed at combating the growing opioid abuse crisis.1

HR 6—which was passed in the Senate on Wednesday and in the House of Representatives last week—instructs the Secretary of Health and Human Services to establish a technical expert panel to review quality measures regarding opioids and opioid use disorders. Once established, the panel will evaluate current and in-development quality measures, identify gaps in these measures, and make recommendations to address America's ongoing opioid crisis.

"The opioid epidemic is a complex, heartbreaking problem requiring an all-hands-on-deck response. We are grateful to congressional leaders for their work on this vital relief package and for engaging with NCPA and other stakeholders throughout its development. As community pharmacists continue our efforts to educate patients on the appropriate use of opioids for legitimate pain management, safeguard against addiction, and promote proper disposal of prescription opioids, we stand ready to continue working with policymakers and other stakeholders in the ongoing fight against opioid abuse," Hoey noted in the statement. 

Hoey added that one of NCPA's members administered naloxone twice in merely 8 days this summer, one of these times in the parking lot just outside his pharmacy. Access to naloxone has also been a topic of discussion this week at the NCPA's Annual Meeting in Boston.

Among other provisions, the final package includes the NCPA-endorsed Empowering Pharmacists in the Fight Against Opioid Abuse Act, introduced by Reps. Buddy Carter (R-Ga.) and Mark DeSaulnier (D-Ca.), which would require federal agencies to develop and distribute materials to train pharmacists on the circumstances in which they are allowed by law to decline to fill a prescription for a controlled substance. These circumstances may include the suspicion of fraud, forgery, or other forms of modification. The package also includes the NCPA-endorsed Every Prescription Conveyed Securely Act, introduced in the Senate by Sens. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Dean Heller (R-Nev.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), and Pat Toomey (R-Pa.), and introduced in the House by Reps. Katherine Clark (D-Mass.) and Markwayne Mullin (R-Okla.). To prevent fraud and abuse, this provision would require e-prescribing for Schedule II through V controlled substances under Medicare Part D. Due to NCPA's advocacy efforts this legislation maintained provisions to exempt long-term care patients in nursing facilities and to ensure that patients' choice of pharmacy is respected.

In addition to collaborating on the opioids package, NCPA is a partner in Allied Against Opioid Abuse, a coalition of organizations that has funded development and dissemination of resources to help pharmacists engage with and educate patients and prescribers about the safe use, storage, and disposal of prescription opioids. 

Reference
1. Laura Cranston, RPh, chief executive officer, Pharmacy Quality Alliance, on the approval of federal legislation to combat the opioid epidemic. PQA website. pqaalliance.org/statement-on-opioid-legislation. Published October 5, 2018. Accessed October 5, 2018.

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