Stresses need to balance enforcement efforts, patient access
NACDS expressed its support of the bill, the Ensuring Patient Access and Effective Drug Enforcement Act of 2016 (S. 483), in a letter sent Monday to U.S. Senate leaders.
The association noted that S. 483, whose lead sponsors are Sens. Orrin Hatch (R., Utah) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D., R.I.) may soon receive consideration by the full Senate. The Senate Judiciary Committee approved the bill on Feb. 11, and the House of Representatives passed a largely similar version of the legislation (H.R. 471) last April.
“NACDS and the chain pharmacy industry are committed to partnering with policymakers to develop viable strategies to prevent opioid abuse, as well as all prescription drug diversion and abuse,” NACDS president and chief executive officer Steve Anderson stated in the letter, addressed to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) and Minority Leader Harry Reid (D., Nev.) and copied to each senator. “To this end, we support policies that empower law enforcement to protect Americans against the dangers of prescription drug diversion and abuse while maintaining legitimate patient access to needed medications.
“This important legislation would foster the development of such policies by directing the Secretary of Health and Human Services to collaborate with the Administrator of the Drug Enforcement Administration, and in consultation with the Secretary of Defense and Secretary of Veterans Affairs, to identify obstacles to legitimate patient access to controlled substances, issues with diversion of controlled substances, and how collaboration between agencies and stakeholders can benefit patients and prevent diversion and abuse of prescription drugs, among other key findings,” Anderson explained. “Moreover, this legislation would require consultation with patient and provider groups, including pharmacies, among other stakeholders. We appreciate the recognition of pharmacies as critical stakeholders in efforts to prevent prescription drug diversion and abuse.”
NACDS said that in an opinion study it commissioned last summer, informed voters indicated through their responses an understanding for the need to address drug abuse and drug access in a complementary manner.
Nearly eight in 10 respondents agreed with the statement: “Pharmacies have a dual role when it comes to battling prescription drug abuse. They have to be part of the solution by working with law enforcement officials to stop prescription drug abuse, but they also have to maintain their responsibilities to patients by making sure they receive the medications they legitimately need.”