NOVEMBER 01, 2007

Responding to concerns raised by pharmacists from across the country, President Bush signed legislation delaying a troublesome federal mandate for the use of tamper-resistant prescription pads for Medicaid Rxs.

The requirement, which was sandwiched into a spending bill for the Iraq war earlier this year, had been set to take effect nationwide on October 1. The reprieve approved by lawmakers at the 11th hour postpones implementation of the mandate until April 1, 2008.

Although federal officials predict that the tamper-resistant Rx requirement will reduce Medicaid prescription fraud by >$300 million, chain drugstore-industry officials were fearful that the new rules would create chaos at pharmacy counters in many areas. A survey of physicians by the National Association of Chain Drug Stores (NACDS) found that many prescribers were unaware of the new requirements. The association warned that correcting millions of improperly written prescriptions would be costly for pharmacies, physicians, and patients.

"NACDS supports efforts to curb fraud and abuse; however, 4 months is not enough time for physicians across the country to comply with such a widespread change," said officials at the chain drug group following the passage of the original legislation last May.