NACDS stresses need for a ‘comprehensive solution’ to prescription drug abuse
PALM BEACH, Fla. — The National Association of Chain Drug Stores on Wednesday announced that the Orlando Sentinel published a letter to the editor from NACDS president and CEO Steve Anderson that outlines the way pharmacists approach complex prescription pain medication issues.
NACDS submitted the letter at a time when the issue is receiving state-wide media attention. The organization said the coverage often times focuses only on one part of prescription drug abuse — addiction and access — which limits the understanding of such issues and the possible solutions for them.
"Pharmacists have a 100 percent commitment to patient care, and a zero-tolerance for prescription drug abuse. But we cannot solve these issues alone,” Anderson wrote. “That is why NACDS encourages a comprehensive solution.”
Anderson’s letter encourages support for the Ensuring Patient Access and Effective Drug Enforcement Act of 2015, which seeks to bring health and enforcement agencies together to better approach these issues. The complete letter-to-the-editor is as follows:
“In one household, a family is devastated by prescription drug abuse. While in another, a patient can’t understand why he is denied the pain medications needed to make life bearable.
“Both scenarios are heartbreaking and different, but also tied together. That’s why any solution to the challenges of prescription drug abuse and prescription drug access should be addressed simultaneously.
“Four years ago, Florida was known as the unofficial pill mill capital of the country. High powered prescription narcotics were being abused across the state and something had to be done. So law enforcement cracked down, the legislature enacted new laws, and many of the questionable pain clinics were closed. Today, drug abuse cases and deaths are down significantly.
“Closing rogue pill mills and cracking down on abuse is the right thing to do. But unfortunately, it’s also contributed to the unintended consequence of leaving some patients without much-needed medication.
“The outcome: Pharmacists are caught in the middle. Pharmacists have a 100 percent commitment to patient care, and a zero-tolerance for prescription drug abuse. But we cannot solve these issues alone. That is why the National Association of Chain Drug Stores (NACDS), encourages a comprehensive solution.
“In 2014, the federal government further tightened access to prescription medications containing hydrocodone. NACDS joined with patient advocates to oppose these efforts, because we want ensure patients in legitimate need of these medications can get them.
“At the same time, NACDS is committed to helping prevent drug abuse. While doctors are required to be responsible when they prescribe controlled substances, pharmacists have a ‘corresponding responsibility’ when they dispense those drugs.
“NACDS offers training programs for pharmacists to identify red flags – based on federal regulations – that could indicate potential drug abuse. We’ve also developed an online continuing course to educate pharmacists about new controlled substance policies.
“Ultimately, a solution will have to address abuse and access at the same time. Fortunately, recent bipartisan federal legislation seeks to do just that. The Ensuring Patient Access and Effective Drug Enforcement Act of 2015 (S. 482 and H.R. 471) would establish a cooperative framework between government agencies, patients, and providers.
“Collaboration is key. Pharmacists have been and will be part of developing a workable solution in Florida and across the country.”