NCPA Letter Expresses Support for Bill to Reduce Prescription Drug Abuse

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Legislation aims to reduce prescription drug abuse while ensuring patient access.

Legislation aims to reduce prescription drug abuse while ensuring patient access.

The National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA) expressed its support of a bill intended to help reduce prescription drug abuse in a July 28, 2014, letter to the US House of Representatives.

The bill, dubbed the Ensuring Patient Access and Effective Drug Enforcement Act of 2014, aims to improve enforcement efforts for prescription drug diversion and abuse, as well as other purposes.

According to B. Douglas Hoey, RPh, MBA, chief executive officer of the NCPA, the bill balances improved enforcement efforts with patient access through a collaborative discussion between key players. Those players include drug manufacturers, wholesalers, community pharmacies, and federal enforcement and oversight agencies.

“Millions of Americans depend on prescription drugs to treat and cure illness, alleviate pain, and improve quality of life,” Hoey states in the letter. “Unfortunately, prescription drug abuse kills tens of thousands of Americans each year, and data shows that this number is steadily rising. Federal agencies and private parties in the drug supply chain are working diligently to prevent drug abuse and diversion; however, it is also imperative that patients with legitimate pain are able to obtain their prescriptions without disruption.”

A provision within the bill would allow pharmacists to submit a corrective action plan prior to the Drug Enforcement Agency revoking or suspending their license. After submitting a corrective action plan, the attorney general could discontinue or defer revocation or suspension proceedings, or require additional changes to the plan.

In addition, the bill requires the Attorney General to provide notice of grounds for revocation or suspension of registration to dispense a controlled substance, as well citing the specific law violated in those cases.

Within 1 year of enactment, officials from several government agencies would submit a report assessing the impact of federal and state law enforcement activities on patient access, and identifying collaborative methods for agencies and stakeholders to address both problems. The report would incorporate recommendations from patient groups, pharmacies, drug manufacturers, hospitals, physicians, state attorneys general, law enforcement officials, wholesale drug distributors, health insurance providers, and entities providing pharmacy benefit management services.

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