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    Top 7 Challenges (and Opportunities) for Pharmacy in 2018

    What’s the difference between a challenge and an opportunity? In 2018, for pharmacy, they may be the same thing.

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    Opioid bottle

    Opioids and PDMPs

    Abuse of prescription opioids shows no signs of abating. Data released in late 2017 showed drug-related deaths fueled a second successive year of declining life expectancy for Americans.

    NCPA warned that pharmacists can expect an expansion of programs to limit initial fills of controlled substances, expanded electronic prescribing for controlled substances, and increased efforts around the disposal of controlled substances. Prescription drug monitoring programs (PDMPs) will remain a key tool in combating misuse.

    Related article: The Other Side of Opioid Limits

    PDMPs are being developed at the state level to deal with state-specific issues. The Prescription Drug Monitoring Program Training and Technical Assistance Center at Brandeis University reports that as of November, 2017, 25 states require prescribers to query the state PDMP before prescribing controlled substances. PDMPs can be highly effective in limiting inappropriate dispensing, but PDMP reports are outside the normal workflow and can slow operations. Fourteen states require both prescribers and dispensers to check the state database, while 13 states do not require checking a PDMP.

    Minnesota is one of the states that require prescribers to check the state database before prescribing controlled substances. “For years, we had to call prescribers every time we saw a patient come in with multiple prescriptions or who we suspected was doctor shopping,” Moore said. “Now that those questionable prescriptions aren’t being written, we don’t have to play good cop-bad cop or go back and forth with physician offices.”

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    Fred Gebhart, Contributing Editor
    Contributing Editor Fred Gebhart works all over the world as a freelance writer and editor, but his home base is in San Francisco.

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