“Stewards” Brief Congress on Curbing Rx Abuse

by Amanda Conschafter, Blog Editor

At a Capitol Hill briefing Wednesday, the Alliance to Prevent the Abuse of Medicines (APAM) offered guidelines for U.S. policymakers who seek to curb prescription drug abuse.  The nonprofit alliance – which includes the American Medical AssociationCardinal HealthCVS Caremark, the Healthcare Distribution Management AssociationPrime Therapeutics, and Teva Pharmaceuticals – unveiled nine guiding principles for education, prevention, monitoring and disposal of prescription drugs.  Featuring opening remarks by Chairman Joe Pitts and Ranking Member Frank Pallone of the House Energy and Commerce Committee Health Subcommittee, the event addressed curbing abuse while maintaining legitimate access.

Calling APAM members “stewards of the prescription drug supply” spokesperson Danielle Hagan cited the “urgent need to address this major issue impacting our nation’s public health.” Recommendations for limiting both abuse and diversion focused on:

1)    Improving education, approach and oversight.  APAM suggests broad education on abuse for patients and the general public.  The organization also emphasizes an overall public health approach, entailing prevention, treatment and early identification of abuse.  To ensure that Congress maintains clear and effective oversight of prescription drug policies, APAM proposes forming a Prescription Drug Abuse Working Group.

2)    Strengthening safeguards.  The alliance advocates for more effective prescription drug monitoring programs and acknowledges the value of Medicaid lock-in programs, which “lock” patients into using a single pharmacy or physician in an effort to prevent overuse of prescription medicines.  APAM is currently researching how a similar lock-in program could help Medicare patients.

3)    Eliminating excess.  APAM supports eliminating “pill mills” and advocates for a national framework for take-back locations.  (Take-back programs work to eradicate expired, unneeded or unused prescriptions medications by offering a site for patients to dispose of them.)

4)    Maximizing abuse-deterrent technology.  The alliance urges the Food and Drug Administration to require abuse-deterrent technology in the generic forms of applicable prescription drugs.  It also supports manufacturer incentives for incorporating this technology.

See the full list of APAM’s guidelines for more information.

Building upon these principles, APAM plans to collaborate with Congress in the ongoing effort to address abuse while maintaining legitimate access for patients.

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