PHARMACY

NACDS, NCPA leaders attend opioid abuse prevention bill signing

BY Sandra Levy

President Donald Trump on Wednesday signed the SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act (H.R. 6), with representatives from the National Association of Chain Drug Stores and the National Community Pharmacists Association in attendance. The legislation included all aspects of all four of NACDS’ policy recommendations regarding opioid abuse prevention, and NCPA noted that in included several provisions it had backed as well.

“NACDS offered legislative recommendations based on pharmacists’ first-hand experiences on the front lines of healthcare delivery, and we appreciate the work of the Trump Administration and of members of Congress to reflect these important perspectives in this new law,” said Steve Anderson,  NACDS president and CEO. NACDS member companies represented and recognized at the event include CVS Health, Rite Aid, Walgreens and Walmart.

“Community pharmacists remain on the front lines, fighting against this epidemic and working to educate patients on appropriate use of opioids, safeguard against addition, and promote proper disposal of prescription opioids,” said NCPA president Doug Hoey. “We applaud provisions in this package that will help us do these things and help the millions of Americans affected by opioid use disorders, though we know the work on this is far from over. With National Prescription Drug Takeback Day just a few short days away on Oct. 27, what a fitting week for President Trump to be signing the bipartisan opioid relief package into law.”

The legislation includes the provisions of the NACDS- and NCPA-backed electronic prescribing bill. The legislation will require e-prescibing for Schedule II through IV controlled substances under Medicare Part D starting in 2021.  Notably, the bill includes exemptions for skilled nursing facility patients, as well as language to ensure that e-prescibing wouldn’t infringe on patients’ going to the pharmacy of their choice, NCPA said. as well as the provisions of an NACDS-backed drug disposal bill that is consistent with the flexibility urged by NACDS and with pharmacies’ current initiatives.

In a January national survey conducted by Morning Consult and commissioned by NACDS, 3-in-4 voters — on a non-partisan basis — supported rules that all prescriptions must be handled electronically, rather than by paper or fax, as a way to help address the opioid abuse epidemic.

The bill also reflects the spirit of NACDS’ recommendations on prescription drug monitoring programs  and on initial-fill limits for acute pain. In addition to reflecting NACDS’ opioid-specific policy recommendations, which NACDS announced on October 24, 2017, H.R. 6 also enhances eligibility for the Medicare Part D Medication Therapy Management (MTM) program to include at-risk beneficiaries.

“NACDS’ recommendations were crafted to build on pharmacy’s long-standing 100% commitment to patient care and zero-tolerance for drug abuse. We pledge our continued commitment to serving as part of the drug-abuse solution, including in the implementation phase of this new law and in other facets of this highly complex national challenge,” Anderson said in a statement.

Regarding drug disposal, H.R. 6 reflects the Access to Increased Drug Disposal Act. The related provisions will create a demonstration program to provide federal grant funding to states to assist drug disposal authorized collectors with the cost to purchase, install, and maintain drug take-back kiosks; the cost to dispose of collected unwanted prescription drugs; and the cost to train staff in operating the kiosks with the goal of improving take-back programs and participation in the states.

NCPA said it worked to ensure the bill would require the development and distribution of materials to train pharmacists on circumstances when they are allowed under law to decline to fill a prescription for a controlled substance.

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