The letter to the editor describes pharmacists' professional approach to complex prescription pain medication issues
Palm Beach, Fla. — The Orlando Sentinel today published a letter-to-the-editor by National Association of Chain Drug Stores (NACDS) President and CEO Steven C. Anderson, IOM, CAE, that describes pharmacists’ professional approach to complex prescription pain medication issues.
NACDS submitted the letter amid extensive media attention to these issues across the state. NACDS said the coverage sometimes focuses on only one aspect of prescription drug abuse, addiction and access, thus limiting complete understanding of the issues and their potential solutions.
"Pharmacists have a 100 percent commitment to patient care, and a zero-tolerance for prescription drug abuse. But we cannot solve these issues alone,” wrote NACDS President and CEO Steven C. Anderson, IOM, CAE. “That is why NACDS encourages a comprehensive solution.”
The letter urges support for the Ensuring Patient Access and Effective Drug Enforcement Act of 2015 (S. 482 and H.R. 471), which would bring health and enforcement authorities together for a more comprehensive approach to these issues.
The complete letter-to-the-editor follows:
“In one household, a family is devastated by prescription drug abuse. While in another, a patient can’t understand why he is denied the pain medications needed to make life bearable.
“Both scenarios are heartbreaking and different, but also tied together. That’s why any solution to the challenges of prescription drug abuse and prescription drug access should be addressed simultaneously.
“Four years ago, Florida was known as the unofficial pill mill capital of the country. High powered prescription narcotics were being abused across the state and something had to be done. So law enforcement cracked down, the legislature enacted new laws, and many of the questionable pain clinics were closed. Today, drug abuse cases and deaths are down significantly.
“Closing rogue pill mills and cracking down on abuse is the right thing to do. But unfortunately, it’s also contributed to the unintended consequence of leaving some patients without much-needed medication.
“The outcome: Pharmacists are caught in the middle. Pharmacists have a 100 percent commitment to patient care, and a zero-tolerance for prescription drug abuse. But we cannot solve these issues alone. That is why the National Association of Chain Drug Stores (NACDS), encourages a comprehensive solution.
“In 2014, the federal government further tightened access to prescription medications containing hydrocodone. NACDS joined with patient advocates to oppose these efforts, because we want ensure patients in legitimate need of these medications can get them.
“At the same time, NACDS is committed to helping prevent drug abuse. While doctors are required to be responsible when they prescribe controlled substances, pharmacists have a ‘corresponding responsibility’ when they dispense those drugs.
“NACDS offers training programs for pharmacists to identify red flags - based on federal regulations - that could indicate potential drug abuse. We’ve also developed an online continuing course to educate pharmacists about new controlled substance policies.
“Ultimately, a solution will have to address abuse and access at the same time. Fortunately, recent bipartisan federal legislation seeks to do just that. The Ensuring Patient Access and Effective Drug Enforcement Act of 2015 (S. 482 and H.R. 471) would establish a cooperative framework between government agencies, patients, and providers.
“Collaboration is key. Pharmacists have been and will be part of developing a workable solution in Florida and across the country.”