Arlington, VA. - The National Association of Chain Drug Stores (NACDS) is hailing progress in the effort to spur collaboration among health and enforcement authorities for drug abuse solutions that maintain patients’ legitimate access to medications.

The U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee today considered and approved S. 483, the Ensuring Patient Access and Effective Drug Enforcement Act. In April 2015, the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 471, a largely similar bill bearing the same name as the Senate version.

NACDS President and CEO Steven C. Anderson, IOM, CAE said: “NACDS recognizes the bill’s lead Senate sponsors, Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), for their vigilance on this highly complex issue. And we want to recognize the leadership of Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Ranking Member Patrick J. Leahy (D-VT) for bringing the bill before the Committee.”

Among other provisions, the legislation would direct the Department of Health and Human Services to coordinate with the Drug Enforcement Administration to assess patient obstacles to legitimate access to controlled substances, to identify how collaboration between agencies and stakeholders can benefit patients and prevent diversion and abuse of prescription drugs, and to provide their findings in a report to Congress.

To reach the President’s desk, the House and Senate ultimately will need to pass identical language either as a stand-alone bill or as part of a larger piece of legislation.

“It is good to see that the complexity of prescription drug abuse and access issues, and the need for true collaboration, are increasingly recognized, and are increasingly at the heart of proposed solutions,” Anderson said.

In an opinion study commissioned by NACDS last summer, likely voters who are engaged and aware when it comes to current events indicated through their responses an appreciation for the need to address drug abuse and drug access in a complementary manner.

Nearly 8-in-10 respondents agreed with the statement: “Pharmacies have a dual role when it comes to battling prescription drug abuse: They have to be part of the solution by working with law enforcement officials to stop prescription drug abuse, but they also have to maintain their responsibilities to patients by making sure they receive the medications they legitimately need.”