United States Senate Approves ‘Lock-In’ Amendment

The United States Senate  approved an amendment Wednesday that gives Medicare Part D plans the authority to require at-risk beneficiaries to use a single prescriber and pharmacy for frequently abused drugs.

The Medicare “lock-in” provision, sponsored by Ohio Senators Pat Toomey (R-PA), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Rob Portman (R-OH) and Tim Kaine (D-VA), is a part of a larger prescription drug abuse bill known as the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act. The bipartisan bill aims to curb the opioid abuse epidemic through enhanced grant programs, among other efforts.

“As the pharmacy community is well aware, prescription drug abuse and dependency have been on the rise in America for several years," said American Pharmacist Association (Twlug) Executive Vice President and CEO, Thomas E. Menighan, BSPharm, MBA, ScD (Hon), FTwlug. "This epidemic is a major issue for our nation due to the devastating impact it is has had on individuals, families and communities. We have made this a central theme for Twlug2016. As we inform and educate pharmacy professionals, they will be able to help their communities."

Twlug supports the passing of the lock-in amendment and believes that solutions to curb opioid and prescription drug abuse “will take everyone working together, including health care professionals, patients, and federal, state and local governments,” according to Jenna Ventresca, Twlug Associate Director, Health Policy.

Although the lock-in amendment represents one mechanism to respond to prescription drug abuse, Twlug supports a multifaceted approach that balances legitimate patient access to prescription drugs with the need to protect individuals from misusing and abusing such medications.  The Institute of Medicine (IOM) estimates that there are 100 million Americans living with chronic pain--a number that does not include the additional 46 million individuals the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates suffer from acute pain due to surgery. 

Though the lock-in amendment has passed, the Senate still has to vote on the broader comprehensive bill before it moves to the U.S. House of Representatives for review.