McKesson CEO agrees opioid crisis is national emergency

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John Hammergren says President Trump's declaration will spur action

SAN FRANCISCO — McKesson Corp. chairman and chief executive officer John Hammergren has endorsed President Donald Trump’s plan to designate the opioid abuse crisis as a national emergency.

Trump this week is expected to formally declare the growing misuse and abuse of narcotic painkillers as a national emergency after saying this summer that he planned to do so.

“McKesson supports President Trump’s indication that he intends to declare the opioid epidemic a ‘national emergency.’ This vital exercise of executive authority will provide much-needed resources to help tackle the opioid crisis in new ways and with a deepened sense of urgency,” Hammergren said in a statement.

John Hammergren_McKesson

John Hammergren

“There is no doubt the opioid epidemic is one of our nation’s most pressing public health crises. Its impact on families and communities across the country is heartbreaking, and McKesson has been and continues to be committed to being a part of the national solution,” Hammergren noted. “We believe that the president and administration senior officials should drive progress on forward-looking solutions.”

Trump formed the Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Epidemic in a March 29 executive order as a way to assess drug addiction and abuse in the United States and determine actions that the federal government could take.

The commission held its first meeting in June and most recently met on Oct. 20 to discuss insurance issues related to the opioid crisis. The next meeting, scheduled for Nov. 1, is slated to feature personal stories about addiction and voting on the Commission’s Final Report, which is slated to be posted online before the gathering.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R.) chairs the commission. Other members include Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker (R.), North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper (D.), former congressman Patrick Kennedy (D., R.I.) and Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi (R.).

A white paper released last year by McKesson, titled “Combatting the Opioid Abuse Epidemic: A Shared Responsibility that Requires Innovative Solutions”, included a list of policy recommendations, including leveraging data analytics to identify patients most at risk for opioid abuse; integrating a National Patient Safety System into the pharmacy medication dispensing process, as recommended by the National Council for Prescription Drug Programs (NCPDP); and requiring e-prescribing for all controlled substances and all payers and providers to use opioid management programs.

McKesson also suggested that policymakers narness the Food and Drug Administration’s Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategies (REMS) program, improve information sharing among state-level prescription drug monitoring programs (PDMPs) and permit partial opioid prescription refills to reduce risks related to an excess of unused pills,

Other policy changes supported by McKesson include requiring the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to work closely with pharmaceutical industry and the pain community to revisit their annual quota on the production of opioids. The company said the DEA should reset the annual limit and/or revisit the the agency’s quota for individual manufacturers.

McKesson, too, recommended that the government enact a national policy to limit the supply of opioids prescribed, such as Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America’s recent proposal late last month to limit pills to a seven-day supply for acute pain treatment.

“We believe these changes can be acted upon quickly. Some may require federal or state legislation or regulatory action,” Hammergren stated.

“This complicated, multifaceted public health crisis cannot be solved by any one participant,” he added. “It needs to be addressed through a comprehensive approach that includes the doctors, patients, pharmacists, insurance companies, government payers (such as Medicaid and Medicare), distributors, manufacturers, law enforcement and regulators.”



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