PHARMACY

NCPA seeks ‘workable solution’ for DEA’s Controlled Substances Act interpretation

BY Allison Cerra

ALEXANDRIA, Va. A group catering to the nation’s community pharmacists sent a letter to a senatorial committee recommending the Drug Enforcement Agency cease enforcement of its current interpretation of the Controlled Substances Act.

In a letter to the Senate Special Committee on Aging, NCPA EVP and CEO Bruce Roberts said that although community pharmacies provide prescription drug services for more than 50% of long-term care beds in America, they are being “undermined” by the DEA, which has “[disregarded] the ‘nurse-as-agent’ paradigm that expedites the approval process for controlled substance pain medications.”

DEA’s new interpretation of the Controlled Substances Act in long-term care facilities means that physicians must contact pharmacists directly when a change in a controlled substance pain medication is necessary. Because the pharmacist always needs a hardcopy prescription and the nurse is not allowed to communicate the physician’s orders with the pharmacist directly, the pharmacist is forced to track the physician down to get a faxed copy of the prescription, NCPA said.

“We believe that the DEA is undermining the ability of pharmacists to address controlled substance pain medications needs in long-term care facilities in a timely manner, which can lead to unnecessary suffering for residents with serious health challenges,” Roberts said. “For years, it has been standard practice in long-term care facilities to allow the nurse to relay information between the physician and the pharmacist. Reduced to threatening prescribers with DEA notification for noncompliance. On one hand, pharmacists risk damaging vital collaborative relationships if they report a physician to the DEA for failing to write the required prescriptions; on the other, they risk losing their right to practice pharmacy if they don’t report noncompliant prescribers.”

Roberts did say, however, that the NCPA “would welcome the opportunity to work with the DEA in creating a workable solution for all parties involved that balances the need for quality patient care, while adequately preventing fraud and abuse.”

Click here to read the full statement.

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Hooper Holmes launches Diabetes Know Now!

BY Allison Cerra

BASKING RIDGE, N.J. Hooper Holmes announced a new, interactive health-screening platform that can efficiently identify people with undiagnosed diabetes or prediabetes.

Diabetes Know Now! is an innovative “screen before the screen” that combines an online diabetes risk assessment with an at-home diabetes laboratory test. Users complete an online diabetes risk assessment that places them in three risk categories — high, moderate or low. Users at high risk for having or developing diabetes then are offered an at-home test kit that allows them to collect their own blood sample and return it to Hooper Holmes’ Heritage Labs. Heritage Labs then completes a Hemoglobin A1c test, which the American Diabetes Association now recommends as the screening test for diabetes, and returns the results electronically to the secure Diabetes Know Now! account established by the user.

To commemorate the launch, Hooper Holmes made Diabetes Know Now! available to its employees in line with Diabetes Alert Day.

“Prior to Diabetes Know Now! there was not an effective and efficient way to target diabetes screenings,” said Chris Behling, president of Hooper Holmes health and wellness. “Now, instead of having to complete blood tests on an entire population, we can improve the efficiency and effectiveness of our customers’ programs, by only needing to complete blood testing on a targeted group who are at the highest risk for having or developing diabetes.”

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Biogen Idec names billionaire as board member

BY Alaric DeArment

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. Biogen Idec appointed a nominee of billionaire investor Carl Icahn to its board Monday, the Swiss drug maker announced.

Biogen Idec appointed Icahn Partners nominee Eric Rowinsky and Stephen Sherwin, selected by the company as part of its effort to find new directors, to its board of directors.

On the same day, Bloomberg quoted Icahn as saying that he would like to see Biogen Idec sold to a larger drug maker, on account of its pipeline, and also split into two business units, one for neurology and one for cancer.

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