PHARMACY

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds signs bipartisan opioid bill into law

NACDS applauds enactment of House File 2377

BY Antoinette Alexander

DUBUQUE, Ohio — In an effort to battle the opioid epidemic, Iowa is tackling the issue of doctor shopping and over-prescribing in the state with a bipartisan piece of legislation signed Monday by Gov. Kim Reynolds.

Reynolds said House File 2377 represents a significant step forward in Iowa’s efforts to address the opioid epidemic. The governor signed the bill in front of overdose victims’ families, law enforcement, state and local officials and others at Mercy Medical Center in Dubuque.

“Opioid-related deaths have more than doubled over the past decade,” said Reynolds. “And like I said in my Condition of the State address, this will not end until we take action. With this legislation, we are taking the first step to reverse this heart-wrenching trend.”

House File 2377 helps prevent doctor shopping and over-prescribing by:

  • Requiring all prescribers to register for and use the prescription monitoring program;
  • Allowing for proactive notification to recognize patients at high risk for abuse and addiction;
  • Requiring electronic prescribing in order to eliminate the risk of fraud; and
  • Allowing licensing boards to assess penalties for providers who over prescribe.

House File 2377 also aims to take a “compassionate” approach to ensure those who need immediate help with an overdose receive it by providing for immunity from criminal liability for those who call 911 to seek care for someone who has overdosed on drugs.

The opioid bill passed the Iowa Senate on April 30, 48-0 and the Iowa House on May 2, 95-0.

The state’s move to require e-prescribing, effective Jan. 1, 2020, drew praise from NACDS.

“Governor Reynolds and the leadership of the Iowa Senate and of the Iowa House of Representatives have taken decisive action on the opioid abuse epidemic by looking to electronic prescribing to help curb fraud, abuse and waste. The Iowa General Assembly’s Opioid Epidemic Evaluation Study Committee and the Iowa Board of Pharmacy deserve thanks as well for their engagement and leadership,” said NACDS president and CEO Steve Anderson in a statement issued Monday.

“NACDS also recognizes the Iowa Retail Federation and NACDS member companies for working hard to make the case for solutions to the opioid abuse epidemic, based on pharmacists’ experiences on the front lines of healthcare delivery,” Anderson added.

A poll conducted by Morning Consult and commissioned by NACDS in January 2018 found 75 percent of Iowa voters support a requirement that all prescriptions must be handled electronically, rather than via paper or fax, as a way to help address the opioid abuse epidemic. Reflecting a strong intensity of opinion, 44 percent of Iowa voters “strongly support” such a requirement — with strong support seen on a bipartisan basis and across political ideologies.

NACDS noted that the legislation is consistent with an array of public policy recommendations announced by NACDS, and with NACDS’ comments to the President’s Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis.

At the federal level, NACDS has endorsed the Every Prescription Conveyed Securely Act (H.R. 3528 and S. 2460). The bill would require that Schedule II through V controlled substances for Medicare Part D beneficiaries are prescribed electronically.

“Together, federal and state actions will enhance the use of e-prescribing to help reduce fraud, abuse and waste of controlled substances. NACDS salutes Iowa’s leadership in this regard,” Anderson said.

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