NCPA Offers Congress Recommendations to Fight Prescription Drug Abuse

The National Community Pharmacists Association endorsed a range of solutions to the prescription drug abuse epidemic and asked lawmakers to revise an overly restrictive "lock-in pharmacy" proposal limiting Medicare beneficiary access.

PRESS RELEASE

Alexandria, Va.- The National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA) endorsed a range of solutions to the prescription drug abuse epidemic and asked lawmakers to revise an overly restrictive "lock-in pharmacy" proposal limiting Medicare beneficiary access, in comments submitted to the Senate Finance Committee, which held a hearing today entitled, "Examining the Opioid Epidemic: Challenges and Opportunities."

"NCPA stands ready to work with other stakeholders to stem the growing tide of opioid abuse and overdose and strongly believes that there are a number of potential strategies that can be utilized such as increased access to naloxone and enhanced prescription drug monitoring programs to address the problem," NCPA said in its comments.

- To help reduce prescription drug abuse, NCPA supports expanded access to naloxone; enhanced prescription drug monitoring programs; increased prescriber education; and more appropriate use of Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategies (REMS).

- Medicare has recently achieved significant progress tackling prescription drug abuse, NCPA noted. Agency officials just announced a 26 percent decrease from 2011 to 2014 of Medicare Part D beneficiaries identified as potential opioid over utilizers. This represents a 39 percent decrease in the share of beneficiaries using opioids who are identified as potential opioid over utilizers.

- Proposed legislation (S. 1913) to establish a Medicare "lock-in pharmacy" system limiting patient access to physicians and community pharmacies "would need a number of key edits to ensure that it would be a coordinated and even-handed program," NCPA said in offering several suggestions. Specifically, Medicare officials should administer the effort, rather than prescription drug plan sponsors, which may have a vested financial interest in steering beneficiaries to a particular pharmacy. By contrast, in virtually all of the 46 state Medicaid "lock-in" programs, it is the patient who determines which prescriber and pharmacy to use.