Representatives DeSaulnier, Carter Introduce Legislation to Better Inform Patients, Doctors, and Pharmacists on Prescription Drug Dispensing

May 25, 2016
Press Release

Washington, D.C. Today, Representatives Mark DeSaulnier (D-CA) and Earl L. “Buddy” Carter (R-GA) introduced legislation to better inform patients, doctors, and pharmacists on prescription drug dispensing. The Empowering Pharmacists in the Fight Against Opioid Abuse Act (H.R. 5314) would require federal agencies to improve training programs and materials to better educate pharmacists and health professionals on the circumstances under which they are allowed by law to decline to fill a prescription for a controlled substance. Such circumstances include the suspicion of fraudulency, forgery, or other forms of alteration.

"As a longtime advocate of measures to curb the rise of prescription drug abuse, I understand the vital role that pharmacists play as our ‘last line of defense’ against those who seek to abuse the system. Pharmacists must use their professional judgement when deciding to fill a prescription. However, it is not always clear when they can legally decline to dispense controlled substances based on reasonable suspicions. Our commonsense measure creates a much needed framework for pharmacists to know when, how, and if they can deny a prescription. I want to thank Representative Carter for reaching across the aisle to partner with me to help address a complex issue that continues to touch the lives of millions of Americans and their families,” said Representative DeSaulnier.

“As a community pharmacist for more than thirty years, I know firsthand that the fight against prescription drug abuse is a team effort and pharmacists play a critical role. In many cases, pharmacists are the last line of defense against patients plagued with addiction or interested in wrongdoing.  Pharmacists not only have a legal, but a moral obligation to decline filling a prescription if there are concrete reasons to do so and this legislation will ensure this is possible by providing pharmacists and health care professionals with the tools they need when faced with this situation. I want to thank Representative DeSaulnier for working with me on the fight against prescription drug abuse and I am confident that together we will combat this epidemic once and for all,” said Representative Carter.

The bill would require the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), in consultation with other federal agencies, to establish programs and materials to train pharmacists, health care providers, and patients on best practices that ensure controlled substances are only dispensed when there is a valid prescription that is issued for a legitimate medical purpose.

Prescription drug abuse is a national epidemic. In fact, Americans currently make up only 5% of the world’s population, but consume more than 80% of the worlds opioids. Last week, a DeSaulnier/Carter measure to expand multi-state drug monitoring programs was included in a comprehensive opioid abuse package passed by the U.S. House of Representatives.