News Releases

NCPA Applauds Passage of Opioid Relief Package

by NCPA | Oct 03, 2018

ALEXANDRIA, Va. (Oct. 3, 2018) — National Community Pharmacists Association CEO B. Douglas Hoey, Pharmacist, MBA, commented on the Senate's passage today of bipartisan legislation to address America's ongoing opioid crisis. The House of Representatives passed the package on Sept. 28, 2018, so it now heads to the president for signature.

"This final package includes NCPA-supported provisions related to the electronic prescribing of controlled substances in Medicare and funding training on circumstances in which a pharmacist is allowed under law to decline to fill a prescription for a controlled substance," said Hoey.

"Community pharmacists are on the front lines of health care and, despite doing what we can to help patients, we too often see results of opioid misuse up close. One of NCPA's members administered Narcan twice in merely eight days this summer, one of these times in the parking lot just outside his pharmacy.

"The opioid epidemic is a complex, heartbreaking problem requiring an all-hands-on-deck response. We are grateful to congressional leaders for their work on this vital relief package and for engaging with NCPA and other stakeholders throughout its development. As community pharmacists continue our efforts to educate patients on the appropriate use of opioids for legitimate pain management, safeguard against addiction, and promote proper disposal of prescription opioids, we stand ready to continue working with policymakers and other stakeholders in the ongoing fight against opioid abuse."

Among other provisions, the final package includes the NCPA-endorsed Empowering Pharmacists in the Fight Against Opioid Abuse Act, introduced by Reps. Buddy Carter (R-Ga.) and Mark DeSaulnier (D-Ca.), which would require federal agencies to develop and distribute materials to train pharmacists on the circumstances in which they are allowed by law to decline to fill a prescription for a controlled substance. These circumstances may include the suspicion of fraud, forgery, or other forms of modification. The package also includes the NCPA-endorsed Every Prescription Conveyed Securely Act, introduced in the Senate by Sens. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Dean Heller (R-Nev.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), and Pat Toomey (R-Pa.), and introduced in the House by Reps. Katherine Clark (D-Mass.) and Markwayne Mullin (R-Okla.). To prevent fraud and abuse, this provision would require e-prescribing for Schedule II through V controlled substances under Medicare Part D. Due to NCPA's advocacy efforts this legislation maintained provisions to exempt long-term care patients in nursing facilities and to ensure that patients' choice of pharmacy is respected.

In addition to collaborating on the opioids package, NCPA is a partner in Allied Against Opioid Abuse, a coalition of organizations that has funded development and dissemination of resources to help pharmacists engage with and educate patients and prescribers about the safe use, storage, and disposal of prescription opioids. Click here to learn more about this pharmacy initiative.

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Founded in 1898, the National Community Pharmacists Association is the voice for the community pharmacist, representing 22,000 pharmacies that employ 250,000 individuals nationwide. Community pharmacies are rooted in the communities where they are located and are among America's most accessible health care providers. To learn more, visit www.ncpanet.org.