McKesson Corporation, the largest pharmaceutical distributor in the nation, sent a letter on Tuesday to New Jersey Governor Chris Christie—who serves the Trump Administration as chair of the President’s Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis—with a series of policy and technology recommendations to enhance the fight against addiction.

“Our country’s opioid abuse epidemic is affecting communities across America at increasingly alarming rates,” Pete Slone, senior vice president of public affairs at McKesson, told Christie. “The opioid epidemic is a complicated, multi-faceted public health crisis that cannot be solved by any one stakeholder. We believe it needs to be addressed through a comprehensive approach that includes the doctors, patients, pharmacists, insurance companies, government payers, distributors, manufacturers, law enforcement and regulators.”

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McKesson’s recommendations include:

• Requiring all payers and providers to use opioid management programs;

• Requiring e-prescribing for all controlled substances across the nation;

• Harnessing the Food and Drug Administration’s Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategies program;

• Fully leveraging data analytics to identify patients most at risk;

• Integrating a National Patient Safety Network into the pharmacy dispensing process, including cash prescriptions and prescriber e-prescribing processes;

• Improving information sharing among prescription drug monitoring programs;

• Permitting partial refills to reduce risks associated with an excess of unused pills;

• Requiring the Drug Enforcement Agency to work closely with industry and medical and pain communities to revisit the annual quota on the production of opioids;

• Enacting a national policy to limit the number of opioids prescribed, such as PhRMA’s recent proposal to limit pills to a seven-day supply for acute pain treatment;

• Prioritizing a National Patient Safety Network for Safe Dispensing and Prescribing of Opioids; and

• Leveraging the expertise and experience of pharmacists to address the opioid epidemic.

“Education alone, however, is insufficient to fully address the opioid crisis,” Slone continued. “To make the most informed dispensing decisions, pharmacists need robust, real-time information that can draw upon and analyze data across all 50 states.”

The tool to achieve this, Slone adds, is a National Patient Safety Network that would identify red flags and alert dispensers when patient safety issues are identified. “For example, in instances where there may be non-medical use of opioids, the Network would notify the pharmacist who could voluntarily check the prescription monitoring program before prescribing.”

The commission’s final report to the President is expected this week. The panel issued an interim report at the end of July, which called on Trump to declare the opioid epidemic a national emergency and recommended—among other recommendations—that the federal government provide funding and technical support to states to improve interstate data sharing between state-run prescription drug monitoring programs (PDMPs) to better track prescriptions written for addictive medications.

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