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The Dose

NCPA Members Helping to Correct the Record

by John Norton | Mar 31, 2017

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NCPA's communications team works to dispel misconceptions about pharmacists in the media. But in the relentless 24-hour news cycle, it can be hard to keep up. That's why we welcome our members alerting us to something they heard or read that needs to be addressed.

On Wednesday, Fox News aired a segment discussing President Trump's plans for tackling the opioid crisis in America. However, during the conversation with Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Ohio), the host made these alarming remarks:

"The problem in large part is pharmacies in places that have—and there are interactive maps that show this—that have pharmacies prescribing a lot of opioid prescriptions have not surprisingly massive addiction problems. Now this is not the case in the rest of the world, a lot of countries—pharmacies are not allowed to prescribe opioids. You have to go to your doctor in a hospital for that. Why doesn't Congress just pass a law tomorrow ending that and that would do a lot to solve the problem, why aren't they doing that?"

Thursday morning several members reached out to us here at NCPA to make us aware. An NCPA staff member subsequently flagged it, too. Swiftly, we emailed the following response to the show's producers:

    Last night, your host erroneously stated that "pharmacies" are "prescribing a lot of opioid prescriptions" in areas that "not surprisingly" have "massive addiction problems." He went on to note that "in the rest of the world, a lot of countries, pharmacies are not allowed to prescribe opioids," and suggested that Congress should pass such a prohibition in the U.S.

    In no U.S. jurisdiction are pharmacists or pharmacies allowed to prescribe opioids or most other FDA-regulated drugs. Such a prohibition has long existed in this country.

    When presented with a valid prescription from a licensed prescriber, pharmacists are authorized to dispense the medication after exercising their professional judgment. In the case of prescribed opioids pharmacists are trained to look for "red flags" that would suggest that abuse of the medication by the patient is a distinct possibility. In 49 states, pharmacists have access to a statewide prescription drug monitoring database that they can review to determine patterns of opioid use by a patient that suggest abuse. Absent red flags, state laws compel pharmacists to dispense when presented with a valid prescription.

    Community pharmacists are on the frontlines of the prescription opioid epidemic. Every day they see patients with legitimate needs for pain relief. Through their professional training and first-hand experience, they know the value, limitations, and dangers of an array powerful drugs.

    Here are some links that illustrate some of what community pharmacists and NCPA are doing to address the abuse of prescription opioids.

    If you'd like more information or to speak with a community pharmacist about combating the opioid epidemic, please let us know.

We will let you know if they take us up on our offer.

This is just one of the many ways we can work to correct the record about the critical work pharmacists do in improving health outcomes and reducing costs. We look forward to doing this whenever the need arises, but we can't do that without the help of our members. You are our eyes and ears, and should be defended when the media makes misstates or misrepresents the facts.