Commentary: Here's a Pharmacist's Perspective on Addressing the Opioid Crisis

B. Douglas Hoey, a pharmacist and CEO of the National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA), discusses efforts to address the opioid crisis. "Independent community pharmacists, many of whom practice in rural communities that are feeling the brunt of this problem, are on the frontlines of this battle, " notes Hoey. "They have a distinctive perspective on what does and does not work." NCPA supports limiting initial fills for opioids. "However, any restrictions need to have caveats for certain patients, such as those in hospice settings," adds Hoey. "We also believe better information-sharing is critical. We must expand mandatory electronic prescribing of controlled substances and enhance Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs by creating national standards. E-prescribing limits the possibility of fraudulent written prescriptions being handed to pharmacists while creating an interconnected framework for controlled substance monitoring, which will improve the ability of pharmacists to identify potential drug abuse and diversion." NCPA also backs increasing the use of and access to medication-assisted treatment and the expansion of screening, brief intervention and referral to treatment activities. "In both programs, pharmacists can identify and intervene with patients who show signs of opioid addiction," says Hoey.