The American Medical Association’s (AMA) consideration and adoption of Resolution 218 has generated an understandable backlash from many pharmacists. Possibly inspired by a provision of Walgreen’s $80 million settlement with the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) regarding controlled substances, resolution 218 essentially discourages pharmacists from contacting physicians with questions in response to a prescription which raises suspicion or in line pharmacists’ professional responsibilities.
Here’s NCPA’s take, which we provided to media contacting us about this issue:
For the benefit of patients and our health care system, it is vital that physicians and pharmacists work together in a collaborative, constructive fashion to coordinate optimal patient care on each of their distinct responsibilities. It is important today and will only become more critical as new care delivery models such as medical homes and accountable care organizations blossom.
We acknowledge and appreciate the changes that AMA delegates made to Resolution 218 to better recognize the role and contributions of pharmacists. At the same time, NCPA opposes the resolution, which is short-sighted and takes a simplistic approach to the prescription drug abuse epidemic that is very complex and wide-ranging in nature. We support a collective approach to controlling abuse and diversion that involves everyone: patient, pharmacist, pharmacy benefit manager, wholesaler, manufacturer, and prescriber.
Indeed additional education of prescribers is an integral part of combating prescription drug abuse. Both the Office of National Drug Control Policy and the Government Accountability Office have affirmed this point. And just recently, the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of the Inspector General (OIG) identified more than 700 physicians exhibiting questionable prescribing patterns, including for controlled substances prone to abuse, in the Medicare Part D drug benefit. OIG called for more monitoring of prescribing patterns and better education of prescribers and Medicare officials agree with the recommendation.