Arlington, Va. – President Barack Obama today signed into law the Ensuring Patient Access and Effective Drug Enforcement Act of 2016.

This new law is one part of the culture change that needs to occur to make possible a nuanced approach to this complex issue.

The new law, advocated by the National Association of Chain Drug Stores (NACDS), seeks to advance collaboration among health and enforcement authorities to achieve drug abuse solutions that maintain patients’ legitimate access to medications.

NACDS President and CEO Steven C. Anderson, IOM, CAE, today called the bill’s enactment a positive step forward for those whose lives have been substantially affected by prescription drug abuse and by lack of access to needed medications. He described the broad-based and consistent effort to urge meaningful dialogue and action on these issues.

“To help raise awareness of the complexities surrounding these problems, NACDS and the U.S. Pain Foundation co-wrote an op-ed that was published last year in The Tampa Tribune,” he said. “That op-ed started with the frank realities of the situation: ‘To hear of one family devastated by prescription drug abuse is to receive motivation to tackle the problem. Yet to hear a story of a suffering patient who cannot receive a needed pain medication serves as equal motivation to protect access. Both of these scenarios need to be addressed — simultaneously.’

“This new law is one part of the culture change that needs to occur to make possible a nuanced approach to this complex issue. We appreciate the President’s signing this bill into law today. We thank for their leadership in the Congress: Rep. Tom Marino (R-PA), House Energy and Commerce Committee Vice Chairman Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), Rep. Judy Chu (D-CA), Rep. Peter Welch (D-VT), Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI). And we thank those in the patient advocacy community, the enforcement community, and other allies in healthcare for making possible this important step toward consensus.”

NACDS has noted that the new law is highly consistent with public attitudes. In an opinion study commissioned by NACDS last summer, likely voters who are engaged and aware when it comes to current events indicated through their responses an appreciation for the need to address drug abuse and drug access in a complementary manner.

Nearly 8-in-10 respondents agreed with the statement: “Pharmacies have a dual role when it comes to battling prescription drug abuse: They have to be part of the solution by working with law enforcement officials to stop prescription drug abuse, but they also have to maintain their responsibilities to patients by making sure they receive the medications they legitimately need.”

NACDS prepared a timeline of significant events related to this legislation’s journey through Congress, as well as of other notable and related developments.