Pharmacy stakeholders support controlled substances document

March 20, 2015

A coalition of stakeholder organizations – including the American Pharmacists Association (APhA), the National Association of Chain Drug Stores (NACDS) and the National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA) – released a consensus document on the "red flag" warning signs related to prescribing and dispensing controlled substance prescriptions.

A coalition of stakeholder organizations – including the American Pharmacists Association (APhA), the National Association of Chain Drug Stores (NACDS) and the National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA) – released a consensus document on the "red flag" warning signs related to prescribing and dispensing controlled substance prescriptions.

According to the consensus document, “Stakeholders Challenges and ‘Red Flag’ Warning Signs Related to Prescribing and Dispensing Controlled Substances”, the goal is to provide health care practitioners with an understanding of their shared responsibility to ensure that all controlled substances are prescribed and dispensed for a legitimate medical purpose. The red flags were divided into two categories: factors more indicative of substance abuse or diversion, and other aberrant medication-related behaviors and factors potentially indicative of substance abuse or diversion.

Also signing on to the document produced by the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP) were CVS Health, Rite Aid, Walgreens and Cardinal Health.

The challenges faced by healthcare practitioners in regard to prescribing and dispensing controlled substances can be overcome through collaboration, communication, and broader efforts to prevent the diversion and misuse of controlled substances while ensuring access to the medications for patients who need them for legitimate reasons, according to the document.

Related:E-Rx tool for controlled substances launches, integrates with EHRs

“There needs to be an open line of communication through a collaborative relationship with the pharmacists in our medical neighborhoods. We need to treat them as partners in patient care and not as adversaries,” said Amy Mullins, MD, medical director for quality improvement with the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP), which is part of the coalition.

The stakeholders initially met on October 2, 2013, and then met numerous times over the course of 2013 and 2014 to discuss the challenges and red flag warning signs including categorizing the signs to indicate the likelihood that diversion, misuse, or abuse are occurring.

The resulting consensus document sheds light on unappreciated challenges, such as the demands placed on physicians to provide direct patient care and the pharmacist's corresponding responsibility under Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) regulations to ensure controlled substance prescriptions are legitimate, according to the NABP.

Related: DEA issues alert on fentanyl after overdoses

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