How to Beat the Opioid Crisis


The president of the NACDS, Steven Anderson, IOM, CAE, wrote to the President’s Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis, telling chair Chris Christie, the Republican Governor of New Jersey, how pharmacists can be involved in fighting the opioid epidemic-and why they can’t do it alone.

Chain pharmacies, Anderson wrote, have implemented a variety of practices and procedures to help quell the crisis. He said that chain stores are committed to working with officials to help, and pointed to the statistic that the number of opioids dispensed at chain pharmacies decreased 15% between 2013 and 2016.

While chain pharmacies can do much to combat opioid abuse, Anderson said that NACDS supports a collaborative approach to end the crisis, adding that NACDS also supports “holistic approaches … implemented at the federal level.”

Related article: How the FDA Will Combat Opioid Abuse

Anderson advocated for several specific policies in his letter, including:

  • Provider and Patient Education: Both patients and providers need to be fully aware of the risks involved with opioids, Anderson said. He also added that patients already receive a deluge of information that is difficult to keep track of, so he suggested that this information be given in a clearer, more succinct way.

  • Required and Standardized PDMPs: NACDS supports PDMPs, and Anderson writes that it is “unfortunate” that there is so much variance on PDMPs in each state.

  • E-prescribing: Anderson said that more widespread use of e-prescribing for controlled substances is important, and suggested ways that the Trump Administration can help clarify and settle the current regulations.

  • Limiting Initial Fills of Controlled Substances: This policy has already been enacted in several forms in multiple states. Anderson said that he wishes for the commission to standardize the rules and promote best practices to help ease negative impacts on patients.

  • Increased Naloxone Access: Anderson supports pharmacists’ dispensing naloxone without a prescription and protections for pharmacists who do dispense the drug.

  • Safe Disposal of Medications: Pharmacies, according to Anderson, should be able to and encouraged to create safe disposal programs.

  • Collaborative Legislative Solutions: Specifically, Anderson supports the Ensuring Patient Access and Effective Drug Enforcement Act, which requires HHS to discover the barriers to patients legitimately getting drugs and how collaboration between several federal and state agencies can prevent drugs from being illegitimately obtained. 

  • Shutting Down Illegitimate Drug Sellers: These include what Anderson called “rogue pain clinics” and also illegal internet drug sellers.

“We are pleased that we are helping to solve the opioid abuse problem,” Anderson wrote. “Pharmacists take their role in helping to ensure safe use of medications very seriously-but they cannot do it alone.”

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