The Tallahassee Democrat published an opinion column by NACDS President and CEO Steven C. Anderson, IOM, CAE emphasizing pharmacists unique position in helping to address complex prescription pain medication issues. NACDS submitted the letter amid extensive media attention to these issues across the state.
The full text of the piece can be found here:
Prescription drug abuse, patient access have solution
Florida pioneered the crackdown on pill mills, setting the stage for a no-tolerance approach in curbing prescription drug abuse. Shutting down more than 500 pill mills in just over four years is a remarkable achievement for a state plagued by these illegal drug sellers.
There is no doubt that the crackdown was necessary. Elected officials took charge and produced results. Now state- and federally-elected officials have an opportunity to look at the other side of this issue – patients with legitimate medical needs who are finding it difficult to access their prescription pain medications.
Prescription drug abuse and patient access to medically-necessary medications are complex issues that are not mutually exclusive. Addressing only one side of the equation can lead to unintended consequences. Unfortunately, it is rare to see issues of medication abuse and access discussed at the same time.
Bipartisan legislation in the U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representatives would bring together all stakeholders – patients, pharmacists, physicians, law enforcement and government agencies – to establish a framework to identify how collaboration between all of these entities can benefit patients and prevent abuse of prescription drugs. The Ensuring Patient Access and Effective Drug Enforcement Act of 2015 (S. 482 and H.R. 471) is supported by Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Miami and Rep. Gus Bilirakis, R-Palm Harbor, who are both cosponsors of the respective bills.
When the House bill passed unopposed last month, Rep. David Jolly, R-Indian Shores, spoke in support citing Florida as the “epicenter” of the debate in combating prescription drug abuse while ensuring legitimate patient access to critical pain medications.
Pharmacists are uniquely positioned to be part of the solution to this complex problem. With their education and training, pharmacists are on the front lines of health care delivery, providing medication counseling and other services to help patients manage their diseases and live better lives.
What many people may not know is that the Drug Enforcement Administration mandates that pharmacists have a “corresponding responsibility” to evaluate every prescription to ensure that it has been written for a legitimate medical purpose before it can be dispensed to a patient. Like other health practitioners, pharmacists are required to look out for “red flags” that may indicate that controlled substances are not being obtained for legitimate purposes.
Pharmacists take very seriously their role as the last line of defense in helping to ensure safe use of medications – but they cannot do it alone.
While concentrated in Florida right now, we know that abuse and access will only continue to grow beyond the borders without the right national remedy. The time has come to bring about an overarching, collaborative approach to curb prescription drug abuse and preserve patient access to their medically-necessary pain medications.