Prescription drug abuse: APhA presents recommendations to Senate HELP Committee working group

Pharmacy groups aligned on issue

On August 13, APhA recommended potential solutions to curtail prescription drug abuse to the Senate Health, Education, Labor, & Pensions (HELP) Committee Prescription Drug Abuse Working Group.

APhA’s recommendations included that health professional roles and expectations should be communicated by DEA. More recommendations were to leverage the use of health information technology, strengthen state prescription drug monitoring programs, enhance provider education on prescription drug abuse, increase patient education on prescription drug abuse awareness, increase prescription drug take-back sites and times, and increase access to opioid reversal agents. These recommendations were presented by APhA Senior Lobbyist Michael Spira before the working group on a day when the Academy of Managed Care Pharmacy, American Society of Health-System Pharmacists, National Community Pharmacists Association, and National Association of Chain Drug Stores also presented.

“We’re all aligned in what we said,” Spira told pharmacist.com. The establishment of the bipartisan HELP Committee Prescription Drug Abuse Working Group was announced April 10. Working group staff are examining the issue and what the federal government, state governments, public health groups, health care providers, law enforcement, and others are doing to address it, according to a HELP Committee news release.

APhA also submitted written comments to HELP Committee working group staff. “While APhA acknowledges the significant problem with misuse and abuse of prescription drugs in the United States, we believe it is imperative that a proper balance be maintained in delivering appropriate pain management for the millions of patients with legitimate needs for controlled substances while taking steps to minimize inappropriate use and abuse,” the Association wrote in its comments. “APhA urges the Prescription Drug Abuse Working Group staff to consider the possible effects that any policy change might have on legitimate patient access to prescription drugs.”