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Representatives Carter, DeSaulnier Introduce Bipartisan Legislation to Help Pharmacists Fight the Opioid Epidemic

Today, Representatives Earl L. “Buddy” Carter (R-GA) Mark DeSaulnier (D-CA) introduced bipartisan legislation to better inform pharmacists about prescription drug dispensing. The Empowering Pharmacists in the Fight Against Opioid Abuse Act would require federal agencies to develop and distribute materials to better educate pharmacists on when they are allowed by law to decline to fill a prescription for a controlled substance. These circumstances include the suspicion of fraud, forgery, or other forms of alteration.

“As a pharmacist for more than thirty years, I viewed addressing prescription drug abuse as part of my professional duty and I have continued this work in the United States House of Representatives,” said Representative Carter. “I know firsthand that in many cases, pharmacists are the last line of defense against patients plagued with addiction or interested in wrongdoing. Now more than ever we need commonsense legislation like this to ensure pharmacists and health care professionals have the tools they need when faced with this situation. We must work together if we’re going to end this epidemic that is getting worse by the day and I thank Representative DeSaulnier for working with me on this critical issue.”

“Given that 75% of opioid abusers reported that their first exposure was a prescription drug, what happens at a pharmacy counter can help reduce addictions and save lives,” said Congressman DeSaulnier. “Pharmacists need the resources to know when and why they can decline to dispense controlled substances to people at risk of becoming addicted or those trying to abuse the system. I thank Congressman Carter for lending his expertise to fight the biggest public health crisis facing our nation.”

“Opioid abuse is a national health crisis with devastating impacts on patients and communities,” said B. Douglas Hoey RPh, MBA, CEO of the National Community Pharmacists Association. “This crisis requires a multifaceted approach to adequately address it. The Empowering Pharmacists in the Fight Against Opioid Abuse Act recognizes that pharmacists play an important role in the health care system and have expertise that ought to be fully utilized in the effort to combat the opioid abuse crisis. NCPA is proud to support this legislation and we commend Representatives Carter and DeSaulnier for their leadership in introducing it.”

The Empowering Pharmacists in the Fight Against Opioid Abuse Act would require the Drug Enforcement Administration, in consultation with other federal agencies, to establish materials to train pharmacists, health care providers, and patients on best practices that ensure controlled substances are only dispensed when there is a valid prescription that is issued for a legitimate medical purpose.