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    Pharmacy Community Reacts to 60 Minutes/Washington Post Investigation

    The investigation is causing far-reaching ripples around the country.

     

    Robert Mabee, RPh, JD, said that the information revealed in the investigation appears to exonerate manufacturers and suppliers, or at least “indemnify or insulate” them from prosecution.

    “Both investigations, combined with the DEA Seminars and decisions by some chain pharmacies and various PBMs, give the impression that the pharmacist has to spend additional time on insurance claims and potential DEA violations,” said Mabee, adding: “this further limits the pharmacist’s ability to perform his clinical role, leaving the patient bewildered and underserved.”

    The NCPA told Drug Topics that community pharmacists are on the front lines of the opioid epidemic. “They must balance their professional judgment in filling legitimate prescriptions while also interacting with patients to identify red flags that may signal abuse,” NCPA said in a statement.

    NCPA recently offered congress recommendations for dealing with the opioid crisis. NCPA said that those recommendations require “a multi-stakeholder approach—manufacturers, wholesalers, prescribers, pharmacists and enforcement agencies working together.”

    Related article: Fighting Opioid Abuse

    In a statement posted on their website, the Healthcare Distribution Alliance (HDA)—a trade organization representing drug distributors—said that the investigation by The Washington Post presented a “misleading picture about the role of health-care distributors in the pharmaceutical supply chain and the regulation of controlled substances and opioids in the market.”

    HDA said the industry has taken steps to prevent diversion of controlled substances. “Pharmaceutical distributors have no mechanism to increase demand or patients’ use of opioids. Our primary role is to coordinate the logistics for the safe and secure distribution of all medications, including controlled substances, from drug manufacturers to DEA-licensed pharmacies and other health-care providers,” the HDA said.

    Fallout from the report is ongoing. Sen. Claire McCaskill—who has been investigating the role drug companies may have played in the opioid crisis—has said she will introduce legislation to repeal the law at the center of the controversy.

    Anthony Vecchione
    Anthony Vecchione is Executive Editor of Drug Topics.
    Valerie DeBenedette
    Valerie DeBenedette is Managing Editor of Drug Topics.

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    • UBM User
      To say that "We were always assured by the manufacturers that these products were safe and non-addictive at any dose as long as the patient truly had pain," is disingenuous at best. One has only to look at the pharmacology of opiates to understand this fallacious argument. Come on, opiates are addicting, period. To pretend otherwise is dangerous and stupid.