SOURCE: American Pharmacists Association

March 03, 2016 12:00 ET

United States Senate Approves 'Lock-In' Amendment

APhA Encouraged By Steps Toward Safer Drug Usage

WASHINGTON, DC--(Marketwired - March 03, 2016) - The United States Senate approved an amendment Wednesday that gives Medicare Part D plans the authority to require at-risk beneficiaries to use a single prescriber and pharmacy for frequently abused drugs.

The Medicare "lock-in" provision, sponsored by Ohio Senators Pat Toomey (R-PA), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Rob Portman (R-OH) and Tim Kaine (D-VA), is a part of a larger prescription drug abuse bill known as the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act. The bipartisan bill aims to curb the opioid abuse epidemic through enhanced grant programs, among other efforts.

"As the pharmacy community is well aware, prescription drug abuse and dependency have been on the rise in America for several years," said American Pharmacist Association (APhA) Executive Vice President and CEO, Thomas E. Menighan, BSPharm, MBA, ScD (Hon), FAPhA. "This epidemic is a major issue for our nation due to the devastating impact it is has had on individuals, families and communities. We have made this a central theme for APhA2016. As we inform and educate pharmacy professionals, they will be able to help their communities."

APhA supports the passing of the lock-in amendment and believes that solutions to curb opioid and prescription drug abuse "will take everyone working together, including health care professionals, patients, and federal, state and local governments," according to Jenna Ventresca, APhA Associate Director, Health Policy.

Although the lock-in amendment represents one mechanism to respond to prescription drug abuse, APhA supports a multifaceted approach that balances legitimate patient access to prescription drugs with the need to protect individuals from misusing and abusing such medications. The Institute of Medicine (IOM) estimates that there are 100 million Americans living with chronic pain -- a number that does not include the additional 46 million individuals the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates suffer from acute pain due to surgery. 

Though the lock-in amendment has passed, the Senate still has to vote on the broader comprehensive bill before it moves to the U.S. House of Representatives for review.

About the American Pharmacists Association

The American Pharmacists Association, founded in 1852 as the American Pharmaceutical Association, is a 501 (c)(6) organization, representing more than 63,000 practicing pharmacists, pharmaceutical scientists, student pharmacists, pharmacy technicians and others interested in advancing the profession. APhA, dedicated to helping all pharmacists improve medication use and advance patient care, is the first-established and largest association of pharmacists in the United States.

With prescription drug and opioid abuse reaching epidemic proportions in the United States, APhA is making the crisis a focus of attention at its 2016 APhA Annual Meeting and Exposition in Baltimore, March 4 to March 7. This emphasis piggybacks on APhA's ongoing commitment to engage the pharmacy community to help curb the epidemic. APhA2016 will feature five sessions on opioids and pain management issues. For more information, please visit www.pharmacist.com.

Contact Information

  • For more information:
    Chad Clinton
    Associate Director, Public Relations
    American Pharmacist Association
    202-429-7558
    cclinton@aphanet.org