Senate approves Medicare 'lock-in' amendment on opioid abuse

The U.S. Senate approved an amendment on March 2 that gives Medicare Part D plans the authority to require at-risk beneficiaries to use a single prescriber and pharmacy for frequently abused drugs.

The U.S. Senate approved an amendment on March 2 that gives Medicare Part D plans the authority to require at-risk beneficiaries to use a single prescriber and pharmacy for frequently abused drugs. The Medicare "lock-in" provision is part of a larger prescription drug abuse bill which aims to curb the opioid abuse epidemic through enhanced grant programs and other efforts. "As the pharmacy community is well aware, prescription drug abuse and dependency have been on the rise in America for several years," said Thomas Menighan, APhA EVP and CEO. "This epidemic is a major issue for our nation due to the devastating impact it is has had on individuals, families and communities. We have made this a central theme for APhA2016. As we inform and educate pharmacy professionals, they will be able to help their communities." APhA supports the passing of the lock-in amendment and believes that solutions to curb opioid and prescription drug abuse "will take everyone working together, including health care professionals, patients, and federal, state and local governments," said Jenna Ventresca, APhA associate director, health policy. The organization supports a multifaceted approach that balances legitimate patient access to prescription drugs with the need to protect individuals from misusing and abusing such medications. The Senate still has to vote on the broader comprehensive bill before it moves to the U.S. House of Representatives for review.