PCMA Applauds House Passage of Bill Curbing Opioid Epidemic

(Washington, D.C.) — Today, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a legislative package, SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act (H.R. 6), which requires electronic prescribing (e-prescribing) of controlled substances in Medicare. This is an important step in the fight against America’s opioid epidemic, the Pharmaceutical Care Management Association (PCMA) said.

E-prescribing of controlled substances ensures each prescription is written by a legitimate prescriber and filled by a legitimate pharmacy. It will dramatically reduce medication errors and limit fraud, while saving hundreds of millions of dollars for taxpayers by decreasing treatment costs and other inefficiencies.

“Requiring e-prescribing for controlled substances will save lives and reduce costs,” said PCMA President and CEO Mark Merritt. “It will empower prescribers and pharmacists to prevent abuse among high-risk patients.”

A number of studies and a Congressional Budget Office analysis found that mandatory e-prescribing of controlled substances will save hundreds of millions of dollars. PCMA is part of a broad coalition that supports passage of the Every Prescription Conveyed Securely Act, introduced by Reps. Katherine Clark (D-MA) and Markwayne Mullin (R-OK).

Coalition organizations include:

  • Pharmaceutical Care Management Association
  • CVS Health
  • Express Scripts
  • Prime Therapeutics
  • Magellan Health
  • Albertsons Companies
  • America’s Health Insurance Plans
  • AmerisourceBergen
  • Association for Accessible Medicines
  • College of Healthcare Information Management Executives
  • Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society
  • Health IT Now
  • Imprivata
  • National Coalition on Health Care
  • National Consumers League
  • National Community Pharmacists Association
  • Rite Aid
  • Surescripts
  • National Association of Chain Drug Stores
  • Walgreens

PCMA also supports a number of important provisions in H.R. 6 to reduce opioid abuse, including:

  • H.R. 5676, Stop Excessive Narcotics in our Retirement (SENIOR) Communities Protection Act. Allowing Medicare Part D plans to suspend payment of claims where there is a credible allegation of fraud prevents having to “pay and chase” fraudulent claims submitted by so-called “pop-up pharmacies.” This bill gives Medicare Part D plans important new tools to fight drug abuse and diversion. The legislation recently overwhelmingly passed in the House with over 350 votes.
  • H.R. 4841 , Standardizing Electronic Prior Authorization for Safe Prescribing Act. Electronic prior authorization helps ensure patients are able to pick up prescription drugs at the pharmacy counter, which allows for optimal adherence levels.
  • H.R. 5808, Medicaid Pharmaceutical Home Act. “Lock-In” programs help prevent inappropriate prescriptions from crossing the pharmacy counter by allowing health plans to require those at risk of abusing prescription drugs to work with their plans to choose a single pharmacy to dispense certain medications, such as opioids.

In addition, PCMA also appreciates the House’s efforts to establish Food and Drug Administration prescribing guidelines and looks forward to continuing to ensure that this valuable tool will be available to relevant stakeholders to continue to combat abuse.