The National Association of Chain Drug Stores and the National Community Pharmacists Association provided comment to a Senate caucus on the pharmacy sector's engagement in the prevention of prescription drug abuse.


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NACDS, NCPA brief Senate caucus on Rx abuse

July 18th, 2012

ALEXANDRIA, Va. – The National Association of Chain Drug Stores and the National Community Pharmacists Association provided comment to a Senate caucus on the pharmacy sector's engagement in the prevention of prescription drug abuse.

NACDS said Wednesday that it submitted a statement to the Senate Caucus on International Narcotics Control for its hearing titled "Responding to the Prescription Drug Abuse Epidemic." The association's statement also detailed the chain drug's commitment to maintaining patient access to medications vital for pain management and for treatment regimens.

Joseph Harmison, RPh, a past president of NCPA and owner of Harmison Pharmacies in Arlington, Texas, testified at the Senate caucus hearing on Wednesday.

"Chain pharmacies have zero tolerance for prescription drug abuse," NACDS said in its statement to the caucus. "NACDS and the chain pharmacy industry are committed to partnering with law enforcement agencies, policymakers and others to work on viable strategies to prevent prescription drug abuse."

NACDS also noted, "As we pursue solutions to the problem of prescription drug abuse, it is critical that we do not place undue burdens on legitimate patients who require prescription medications."

Chain drug retailers have taken an active approach to keep communities safe and help to prevent the human costs of illegal prescription drug use, according to NACDS.

The industry's efforts include training of chain pharmacy staff and the implementation of policies and procedures to help prevent diversion and abuse; compliance with Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) inspections and regulations and Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulations; frequent dialogue with DEA officials; loss prevention and internal security systems; participation in state-controlled prescription drug monitoring programs; support for the FDA's use of Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategies (REMS); and collaboration with the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy and support for public education programs.

Other measures to combat drug abuse, misuse and diversion, NACDS said, include the advancement of electronic prescriptions, including the accelerated deployment of e-prescribing of controlled substances; support for law enforcement-authorized programs for the return and disposal of unwanted prescriptions; cooperation with local law enforcement; targeting of and continued crackdown on illicit online drug sellers; and support for efforts to shut down rogue pain clinics.

"The prescription drug abuse problem can be successfully curbed. However, chain pharmacy cannot solve this problem alone. There must be a holistic approach," NACDS stated. "All affected stakeholders, including every sector mentioned in this document, must work proactively to tackle and resolve this problem. We all must work together at the federal, state, and local levels."

In his testimony on behalf of NCPA, Harmison described factors that contribute to the prescription abuse problem — 76.5 million Americans suffer from pain, and nearly 70% of drug abusers get the prescriptions from their family's medicine cabinet or from friends — and the role community pharmacists play in trying to prevent abuse.

"Community pharmacists hold in high regard their responsibility to exercise sound professional judgment when making a determination about the legitimacy of a controlled substance prescription," Harmison testified. "We are proud of the fact that most independent community pharmacies have strong, long-lasting, face-to-face, personal relationships with their patients and the prescribers in their communities. This, in fact, serves as a deterrent to abuse because we know our prescribers and our patients, making it easier for us to detect a 'doctor shopper' just looking for more controlled substances."

Harmison added, "At the same we time, we support a more systems-based approach to controlling abuse and diversion. Everyone needs to be involved — patient, pharmacist, pharmacy benefit manager, wholesaler, manufacturer and prescriber."

*Editor's note: Article updated with information from NCPA.

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