ARLINGTON, Va. — The pain management and opioid policies advanced by the National Association of Chain Drug Stores can help guide the federal government’s action plan to prevent and treat opioid addiction, according to the association, which recently conveyed this message to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).
NACDS submitted comments to CMS in response to a request for information by the agency. CMS is developing an action plan to prevent opioid addiction and to enhance access to medication-assisted treatment (MAT), as called for by the SUPPORT Act that was enacted in 2018. MAT refers to the use of behavioral therapy and medications to treat substance abuse disorders (SUDs).
Speaking to the role pharmacists play in pain management and prevention of opioid abuse, NACDS president and chief executive officer Steve Anderson stated: “NACDS and our members wholeheartedly agree that pharmacists have a critical role to play in curbing prescription opioid misuse and abuse and providing individuals struggling with a SUD with convenient options for receiving MAT services. As the face of neighborhood health care, pharmacists are trusted health care professionals who regularly interact with patients to provide expert advice on proper medication use and deliver a growing number of important health care services to the public.”
In addressing policy solutions to improve coverage and access for SUD treatment options and evidence-based, Food and Drug Administration-approved MAT, the association detailed policy recommendations, including limiting initial opioid prescriptions for the treatment of acute pain, with appropriate exemptions for chronic pain, pain associated with cancer care, hospice or other end-of-life care, and palliative care, as well as prescriptions issued to treat addiction.
NACDS also recommends the pursuit of policy changes to encourage utilization of electronic prescribing, as well as improving coverage for pain-management treatment options to improve access to non-opioid therapeutic alternatives and also increasing access to SUD treatment by leveraging pharmacists to provide these services.
In addition to these policy recommendations, NACDS advances policies regarding prescription drug monitoring plans and drug disposal solutions. All of these recommendations are based on pharmacists’ experiences on the front lines of health care delivery.
NACDS backs the John S. McCain Opioid Addiction Prevention Act, which would limit the supply of a patient’s first opioid prescription to seven days, when that prescription is for acute pain such as that caused by an injury.
CDC clinical evidence shows a greater amount of initial opioid exposure is associated with greater risk for long-term use and addiction. More than 33 states already have taken action; federal legislation is needed for consistent patient care.