CCPA Speaks Out: Education Continues on Tamper-resistant Rx Pads

NOVEMBER 01, 2007
Julie Khani and Charles Sewell

Ms. Khani and Mr. Sewell are copresidents of the Coalition for Community Pharmacy Action.

Last month, we discussed the passage of the tamper-resistant prescription-pad delay—so important to protecting pharmacy access for Medicaid beneficiaries. A provision tucked deep into an Iraq War Supplemental spending bill finalized on May 25, 2007, required all Medicaid prescriptions to be written on tamper-resistant prescription pads beginning October 1, 2007. The troubling new provision was not directed at physicians and other prescribers— only pharmacists would have been penalized for filling a noncompliant prescription. The delay gives us the next 6 months to inform physicians of the requirements and make sure that a working process for tamper-resistant Medicaid prescriptions is in place.

With such a difficult situation facing community pharmacy, the Coalition for Community Pharmacy Action (CCPA) launched an education campaign to >535,000 physicians informing them of the impending change. The National Association of Chain Drug Stores (NACDS) and the National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA) also worked hard urging Congress to pass legislation that would implement a delay.

Our efforts were successful, yielding a 6-month delay passed as part of HR 3668 and signed by President Bush just 2 days before the new requirement was to be enforced. The CCPA applauds the outstanding leadership of pharmacy supporters in Congress, such as Sens Sherrod Brown (D, Ohio) and George Voinovich (R, Ohio) and Reps Charlie Wilson (D, Ohio), Mike Ross (D, Ark), Marion Berry (D, Ark), and Tom Allen (D, Me).

While our advocacy efforts have concluded, our education efforts continue. With a 6-month window now in place, community pharmacists must stay active. In order to prevent disruptions for our patients, we will be working closely with state Medicaid directors to establish clear, workable guidelines. We will also work to ensure that all prescribers and pharmacists are aware of and compliant with the new requirement.

The Coalition for Community Pharmacy Action (CCPA) is an alliance between the National Association of Chain Drug Stores (NACDS) and the National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA), which together represents more than 55,000 community pharmacies. CCPA leverages the support, effort, and infrastructure of NACDS and NCPA while engaging community pharmacy to participate and advocate on issues affecting the industry.

The CCPA, NCPA, and NACDS fully support safeguards designed to curb health care fraud and abuse. Four months was not enough time, however, for regulators, physicians, pharmacists, and prescription-pad manufacturers across the country to comply with such a widespread change. With >300 million Medicaid prescriptions filled each year, this requirement would have caused major problems for our operations and our patients.

The CCPA continues to advocate on behalf of community pharmacy and our Medicaid patients on this issue.We will continue to work with Congress, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, state Medicaid directors, and other concerned organizations across the country, while we also continue to serve as a resource for physicians and pharmacists. As always, the CCPA is working to ensure patients' safety and continued access to their trusted community pharmacy.