In a letter sent to members of the U.S. Senate today, the National Association of Chain Drug Stores (NACDS) urged passage of legislation that would spur collaboration among health and enforcement authorities for drug abuse solutions that maintain patients’ legitimate access to medications.
We support policies that empower law enforcement to protect Americans against the dangers of prescription drug diversion and abuse while maintaining legitimate patient access to needed medications.
The Ensuring Patient Access and Effective Drug Enforcement Act of 2016 (S. 483) soon could receive consideration by the full Senate. The U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee approved the bill on February 11. The House of Representatives passed its largely similar version of the measure (H.R. 471) in April 2015. To reach the President’s desk, the House and Senate ultimately will need to pass identical language either as a stand-alone bill or as part of larger piece of legislation.
The lead Sponsors of the Senate bill are U.S. Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and U.S. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI).
NACDS President and CEO Steven C. Anderson, IOM, CAE, sent a letter addressed to U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), and copied to each Senator, saying: “NACDS and the chain pharmacy industry are committed to partnering with policymakers to develop viable strategies to prevent opioid abuse, as well as all prescription drug diversion and abuse. To this end, we support policies that empower law enforcement to protect Americans against the dangers of prescription drug diversion and abuse while maintaining legitimate patient access to needed medications.
“This important legislation would foster the development of such policies by directing the Secretary of Health and Human Services to collaborate with the Administrator of the Drug Enforcement Administration, and in consultation with the Secretary of Defense and Secretary of Veterans Affairs, to identify obstacles to legitimate patient access to controlled substances, issues with diversion of controlled substances, and how collaboration between agencies and stakeholders can benefit patients and prevent diversion and abuse of prescription drugs, among other key findings. Moreover, this legislation would require consultation with patient and provider groups, including pharmacies, among other stakeholders. We appreciate the recognition of pharmacies as critical stakeholders in efforts to prevent prescription drug diversion and abuse.”
The legislation is 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.”