McKesson pledges $100M, creates foundation to fight opioid epidemic

McKesson on Thursday pledged $100 million toward combating the opioid epidemic through the formation of a foundation dedicated to addressing the crisis.

“At McKesson, we are deeply concerned by the impact the opioid epidemic is having on families and communities across our nation. That’s why we are taking new steps to help combat the epidemic,” John Hammergren, chairman and CEO McKesson, said. “These new initiatives will provide additional tools to fight abuse, combat overprescribing and increase doctor and patient education. We believe our investment and continued actions can have a positive impact, particularly when done in partnership with others in the healthcare industry, as well as with government policymakers, administrators, and regulators.”

The new non-profit organization is expected to focus on education for patients, caregivers and providers, addressing key policy issues and increasing access to life-saving treatments, such as opioid overdose reversal medications. The foundation’s work will be overseen by a board comprised of a majority of outside directors including healthcare and subject matter experts.

Details on leadership, strategic priorities and criteria for giving will be announced in the coming months. This new foundation is distinct from McKesson’s existing non-profit foundation whose key focus is on supporting better care for cancer patients.

McKesson outlined five key areas that will inform the company's work with pharmacies, policymakers, prescribers and manufacturers.

  • Expedite development of a national prescription safety-alert system. To identify patients who are at risk for opioid overuse, abuse, addiction or misuse, the company will invest in the development of a national system that uses prescription information to provide real-time alerts to pharmacists and, ultimately, prescribers, indicating when additional patient information may be needed before dispensing opioids. (Check out a video outlining the alert system here);

  • Facilitate e-prescribing. To reduce fraudulent or counterfeit prescriptions, during 2019 the company will stop selling opioids to customers who cannot accept e-prescribing of controlled substances and will engage with those customers who may need to make this transition. McKesson continues to advocate that Congress require mandatory e-prescribing of opioids;

  • Support limited-dose packaging. To make it easier for doctors to prescribe and pharmacists to dispense in smaller doses, and to reduce potential for unused product, the company will proactively engage with all opioid manufacturing partners this calendar year to develop plans for limited-dose packaging;

  • Fast-track distribution of new, non-opioid pain medications. To improve access to medicines, the company will work with manufacturing partners to facilitate immediate availability on a national basis of non-opioid pain medication once approved by FDA; and

  • Provide complimentary pharmacist training on opioid overdose reversal medications. The company will offer pharmacists complimentary training by independent medical experts on how to administer medications such as naloxone.

In addition, the company will develop and make available an annual report that examines the progress of these company initiatives with the purpose of sharing learnings and insights with the public.