NACDS tells House committee how pharmacy can fight opioid abuse

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NACDS tells House committee how pharmacy can fight opioid abuse

The House Energy and Commerce Committee has been looking into legislative solutions to the opioid crisis, and the National Association of Chain Drug Stores has highlighted pharmacy as a key player in curbing opioid abuse and misuse.

NACDS submitted comments to the committee during its recent hearing, "Combatting the Opioid Crisis, Improving the Ability of Medicare and Medicaid to Provide Care to Patients," which assessed how Medicare and Medicaid could be brought to bear on the crisis.

"Retail community pharmacists are an underutilized component in helping to identify and treat those with opioid addiction as well as educating consumers on the dangers of opioid abuse and addiction," NACDS said. "Recognizing the value pharmacists play as a member of the healthcare team and utilizing them at the top of their training would greatly benefit the battle against the opioid crisis."

The organization noted that pharmacists already offer several services that can help fight abuse, including medication assisted treatment for patients with an opioid-use disorder and HIV, hepatitis B and hepatitis C screenings and immunizations, as well as the ability to offer naloxone - with pharmacies in various states offering the overdose-reversal drug without a prescription. The Surgeon General in early April urged all Americans to carry naloxone.

"NACDS thanks Surgeon General Adams for a very clear and effective message: carrying naloxone can help save the life of a loved one," NACDS president and CEO Steve Anderson said when the Surgeon General made his suggestion. "Pharmacy's commitment to fostering naloxone access has always been about helping to save lives, along with initiatives focused on abuse-prevention.

NACDS also offered the committee policy recommendations, including mandated e-prescribing of controlled substances, a nationwide prescription drug monitoring program and limiting initial opioid prescriptions for acute pain to a seven-day fill. With regard to Medicare-focused solutions, NACDS has supported HR 3528, the Every Prescription Conveyed Securely Act, which would require e-prescribing of all controlled substances in Medicare Part D.

"Pharmacists take very seriously their role in helping to ensure safe use of medications — but they cannot do it alone," NACDS said. "We support a collaborative approach to curb prescription drug abuse and preserve patient access to their medically-necessary pain medications. We believe that there are a variety of ways to help curb prescription drug diversion, and chain pharmacies actively work on many initiatives to reduce this problem."

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