March 5, 2013
Sens. Boxer, Coburn lead effort urging GAO to focus on health, enforcement coordination
Arlington, Va. — The National Association of Chain Drug Stores (NACDS) supported a bipartisan request by U.S. Senators that Congress’ investigative arm identify coordination opportunities among health and enforcement entities to better address prescription drug abuse while ensuring legitimate patient access to medications.
U.S. Senators Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Tom Coburn, M.D. (R-OK) spearheaded this effort, and Chairman of the Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA), Ranking Member of the Committee Lamar Alexander (R-TN), as well as Sens. Richard Burr (R-NC), Mike Enzi (R-WY), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), and Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) also provided their support in a letter to the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO).
In the letter, the Senators wrote, “While many governmental health and enforcement agencies, public health groups, and other stakeholders are working to reduce prescription drug abuse, we have a growing concern about the lack of coordination between the health and law enforcement agencies and stakeholders working to address this issue. Despite sincere efforts by both law enforcement and health providers to communicate, there are growing concerns that uncoordinated efforts could keep legitimate patients from getting access to the drugs they really need.”
NACDS President and CEO Steven C. Anderson, IOM, CAE, lauded the effort, saying “Community pharmacy appreciates the commitment of Senator Boxer and Senator Coburn to pursue a comprehensive approach to a complicated problem. To consider only one aspect of this issue would be a disservice to those whose health conditions require legitimate access to needed medications and to those affected in many ways by abuse and addiction. With this request for a GAO survey, Senator Boxer and Senator Coburn are asking the right questions, and the good of all Americans would be served by their receiving good answers.”
In requesting the survey, the Senators urged that it “should gather information from stakeholders about ways specific efforts to reduce prescription drug abuse are successfully coordinated between stakeholders, as well as identify areas in which a lack of coordination or collaboration may be exacerbating problems.”
The Senators also suggested that “in addition to any relevant governmental agencies the GAO may recommend, we recommend that GAO consider surveying the appropriate representatives of the following federal, state and local governmental and non-governmental entities: Drug Enforcement Agency, Food and Drug Administration, Office of National Drug Control Policy, patient groups, pharmacists, wholesale drug distributors and other health care groups, public policy experts, state attorneys general, and law enforcement officials representing state and local law enforcement.”