NCPA Testifies on Pharmacists' Role in Preventing Drug Diversion, Pharmacy Crime; Offers Recommendations to Strengthen Those Efforts



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Alexandria, Va. - March 1, 2012

Joseph H. Harmison, RPh, a pharmacy owner in Grand Prairie, Texas, testified on behalf of the National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA) at today's U.S. House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing and Trade hearing on "Prescription Drug Diversion: Combating the Scourge".

03-01-12 Joe Harmison testifies at House hearing on drug diversion

Harmison detailed the tightrope community pharmacies walk in preventing drug diversion, while ensuring patients with legitimate health concerns have timely access to needed medication without unnecessary government intervention. He also indentified legislative, regulatory and private-sector efforts that community pharmacies support to stem the tide of drug diversion and pharmacy crimes.

"We are proud of the fact that most independent community pharmacists have strong, personal relationships with their patients," said Harmison. "This in fact serves as a deterrent to abuse because we know our patients, making it easier for us to detect a 'doctor shopper' just looking for more controlled substances. At the same we time, we support a more systems-based approach to controlling abuse and diversion. Everyone needs to be involved: patient, pharmacist, wholesaler, manufacturer, and prescriber."

Harmison added, "NCPA is committed to working with Members of Congress and state and local law enforcement officials to combat the inappropriate use and diversion of prescription drugs and is committed to working towards sensible solutions. We need a system-wide approach to address this issue."

Those ongoing system-based approaches to prevent drug diversion include placing a premium on well-crafted and transparent review processes that seeks public comment on Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategies (REMS), prescription drug monitoring programs (PDMPs), and electronic prescribing that are in compliance with Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) requirements. Harmison also noted that pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) can provide further assistance, since people who don't use cash for nefarious purchases in pharmacies go through the third party insurance adjudication process. PBMs should help health care providers like pharmacists be more aware of developments throughout the drug dispensing process by being "more accountable for monitoring patient use of controlled substances and preventing drug diversion."

Harmison's recommendations for federal legislative initiatives that could help mitigate the growing problem of pharmacy crimes included:

  • Providing more funding for federal prosecution;
  • Giving funding to federal and state law enforcement for the purposes of improving communication and coordination;
  • Offering tax incentives for pharmacies to adopt safety and crime prevention measures;
  • Allowing pharmacies access to prescription drug crime forfeiture money for the purpose of enhancing pharmacy security systems and investing in deterrence measures;
  • Passing legislation to shut down pill mills; and
  • Requiring mandatory minimum sentences for robberies and burglaries involving controlled substances.

NCPA encourages community pharmacists to commit themselves to supporting national and local efforts to prevent the misuse and abuse of both prescription and non-prescription medications. The association provides resources to pharmacists to do so via its Protect Your Pharmacy Now! anti-crime initiative and Dispose My Meds programs to encourage proper disposal of unwanted non-controlled prescriptions. The association has also created a Prevent Prescription Abuse homepage, www.ncpanet.org/preventrxabuse, providing resources, tools and educational materials for pharmacists and patients as part of its partnership in programs such as Safeguard My Meds, Rx Safety Matters and Generation Rx.

The National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA®) represents the interests of America's community pharmacists, including the owners of more than 23,000 independent community pharmacies. Together they represent a $93 billion health care marketplace, dispense nearly 40% of all retail prescriptions, and employ more than 315,000 people, including 62,400 pharmacists. Independent community pharmacists are readily accessible medication experts who can help lower health care spending. They are committed to maximizing the appropriate use of lower-cost generic drugs and reducing the estimated $290 billion that is wasted annually by improper medication use. To learn more go to www.ncpanet.org or read NCPA's blog, The Dose, at http://ncpanet.wordpress.com.

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