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HDA Statement on 60 Minutes/Washington Post Coverage on Distributors, Opioid Epidemic

October 13, 2017

ARLINGTON, Va. — HDA President and CEO John M. Gray released the following statement in response to 60 Minutes/Washington Post coverage on the opioid epidemic.

“Our industry recognizes the opioid epidemic as a national crisis — one that requires urgent action and solutions from across the healthcare system. While distributors do not manufacture, market, prescribe or dispense medicines — including opioids — we are supportive of initiatives by the government, public health organizations and our supply chain partners to reduce opioid prescribing, increase disposal of unused medicine, and improve patient, pharmacist and physician education.

“The most powerful and effective enforcement tool we can envision is the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and the supply chain working together to combat the opioid epidemic. For the past decade, our industry has continuously sought opportunities to communicate and coordinate more effectively with DEA to better understand our reporting responsibilities under the Controlled Substances Act, and to work together to mitigate the opioid epidemic. Prior to 2016, these efforts were not reciprocated — as noted by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) in a July 2015 report. The GAO recommended that the DEA ‘improve communication with and guidance for registrants’ in order to effectively address abuse, misuse, and diversion moving forward.

“This is why the Ensuring Patient Access and Effective Drug Enforcement Act (S. 483), which had broad, bipartisan support, was a meaningful common-sense solution to create a pathway for information exchange between the DEA and its registrants that did not previously exist. Yet, under the law today, the DEA remains fully empowered to take immediate action against a registrant if there is ‘a substantial likelihood of an immediate threat that death, serious bodily harm, or abuse of a controlled substance will occur in the absence of an immediate suspension of the registration.’

“Greater clarity, dialogue and collaboration between the DEA and its supply chain partners will strengthen our nation’s ability to precisely and effectively combat prescription drug abuse and diversion.”

Background: 

ABOUT THE HEALTHCARE DISTRIBUTION ALLIANCE

The Healthcare Distribution Alliance (HDA) represents primary pharmaceutical distributors — the vital link between the nation’s pharmaceutical manufacturers and more than 200,000 pharmacies, hospitals, long-term care facilities, clinics and others nationwide. Since 1876, HDA has helped members navigate regulations and innovations to get the right medicines to the right patients at the right time, safely and efficiently. The HDA Research Foundation, HDA’s non-profit charitable foundation, serves the healthcare industry by providing research and education focused on priority healthcare supply chain issues.

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