Kevin Nicholson, vice president of public policy and regulatory affairs at NACDS, represented the association at Thursday’s event, which featured panels on education, prevention, treatment and law enforcement.
Participating in the White House Opioid Summit were President Donald Trump, First Lady Melania Trump and members of the cabinet, including Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar, Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen, Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Ben Carson and Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
Steve Anderson, president and chief executive officer of NACDS, expressed appreciation for the retail pharmacy industry’s continued recognition by the administration as a key part of the opioid crisis discussion. NACDS attended the at the White House’s invitation.
“From the front lines of health care delivery, NACDS members have a lot to offer to the national discussion and to the national commitment to address the opioid abuse epidemic,” Anderson said in a statement. “Just as NACDS has been invited to participate in prior administration meetings on this crucial issue, we appreciate what has been an open invitation for pharmacy to engage as a working partner to enhance the well-being of families, of communities and of the nation.
“NACDS continues to work collaboratively to advance the four new public policy recommendations that we announced in October 2017,” he added. “These new recommendations are intended to build on pharmacy’s longstanding work in the areas of compliance programs, helping to pioneer and advance electronic prescribing, fostering safe prescription drug disposal, patient education, security initiatives, promoting naloxone access, stopping illegal online drug sellers and rogue clinics, and more.”
The association highlighted the recommendations this week in statements submitted to the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions and the House Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee, which held hearings on strategies to fight opioid abuse.
NACDS’ policy solutions to address prescription opioid abuse include the following:
• Require prescriptions to be issued electronically. In the House statement, NACDS said it supported the Every Prescription Conveyed Securely Act (H.R. 3528) and thanked the co-sponsorship of Rep. Markwayne Mullin (R., Okla.). The association this week endorsed the Senate version of the legislation, the Every Prescription Conveyed Securely Act (S. 2460), which would require controlled substances for Medicare Part D beneficiaries to be prescribed electronically.
• Create a nationwide prescription drug monitoring program (PDMP) through collaboration.
• Provide manufacturer-funded, mail-back envelopes for unused opioid drugs, available to patients at pharmacies on request.
• Establish a seven-day supply limit for initial opioid prescriptions for acute pain.
In its comments, NACDS noted that pharmacies are engaged daily in measures to prevent the diversion and abuse of prescription medications, including controlled substances. The statements emphasized that a key aspect for pharmacists is to guard against abuse without impeding access to medications for patients who need them.
NACDS added that the House committee is expected to hold more hearings that will center on public health and prevention legislation and insurance coverage-related measures before advancing legislation in the coming weeks.