As discussed previously (“Thug Regulation”), Walgreens is feeling the hot breath of the DEA on its neck. A new letter is designed to explain and assuage physician concerns over the chain's tighter restrictions for controlled substances – particularly opioids. (According to the California Medical Association, the Walgreens’ policy is in response to recent investigations and actions by the DEA.)
According to the Walgreens missive, “We realize that this process may generate questions and comments from both you and the patient and we will do our best to respond in a professional and courteous manner. We recognize that sharing appropriate information with our pharmacists may require additional time from you or your office staff and we want to thank you in advance for partnering with us to provide the best care for patients.”
(The complete Walgreens letter can be found here.)
The issue goes beyond the DEA’s behind the scenes efforts to deputize pharmacists to better control controlled substances (and the important issue of access to pain medications). The bigger issue is re-inventing the role of the 21st century pharmacist.
Some questions to consider:
What will the role of the 21st century pharmacist be in improving drug safety and medication adherence via more proactive (and remunerated) patient education?
How can pharmacists become better integrated (beyond Med Guides) into the FDA’s Safe Use of Medicines initiative?
When will pharmacy synchronization programs really kick into gear, and how will states help to jump-start these important initiatives?