NCPA: Pharmacists can help combat Rx drug abuse

ALEXANDRIA, Va. — Local pharmacists work with patients and law enforcement to combat the abuse of controlled substances and other prescription drugs, but changes to federal policy are needed to allow pharmacists to play a greater role, the National Community Pharmacists Association suggested Thursday in comments submitted to Congress.

“NCPA is committed to working with members of Congress and state and local law enforcement officials to combat the inappropriate use and diversion of prescription drugs, and is committed to working toward sensible solutions,” the association stated in comments to a U.S. House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee holding a hearing entitled “Warning: The Growing Danger of Prescription Drug Diversion.”

In the comments, available in their entirety here, NCPA made the following points:

  • Community pharmacists support national and local efforts to prevent the abuse of both prescription and nonprescription drugs, at the same time recognizing that Congress should not diminish access to effective pain treatments for people who need them;

  • Community pharmacists provide vital patient counseling to help ensure that these medications are not misused, abused or diverted; and

  • Consumers want ongoing, convenient and clear drug disposal options, and find local pharmacies to be the most convenient location to return unused or expired medicines.

The NCPA suggested that the Drug Enforcement Administration should consider community pharmacies — already licensed by the DEA and the state — as appropriate locations to receive unused controlled substances from patients. To date, more than 1,200 community pharmacies voluntarily are participating in NCPA’s Dispose My Meds disposal program and collected more than 25,000 lbs. of unused or expired medications in the past year alone; however, no one can accept controlled substances.