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AG Sean Reyes Joins Bipartisan Letter Urging PBMs to Implement Opioid Mitigation Programs

SALT LAKE CITY October 20, 2017 – Attorney General Sean Reyes has joined with a bipartisan group of attorneys general from across the country in letters to 15 healthcare companies that provide pharmacy benefit management (PBM) services encouraging the companies to implement programs to mitigate prescription opioid abuse.

The attorneys general also sent a letter to the president and CEO of CVS Health Corporation applauding the company’s recent program that automatically enrolled all commercial, health plan, employer and Medicaid clients in an opioid abuse mitigation program.

“As Attorney General, I have seen far too much devastation to Utah families and communities from opioids. In our fight against this epidemic we have learned that all too often addiction starts with prescription medication,” said Attorney General Sean Reyes. 

“I applaud pharmacies like CVS who are proactively implementing policies to lessen the likelihood of addiction by patients. We urge other companies to follow their lead. Limiting the duration and dosage of opioids, among other solutions, will likely decrease significantly the number of new addicts.

“Working with pharmacies is part of the Utah Opioid Task Force’s multi-layered approach with many stakeholders including manufacturers, prescribers, insurance companies, law enforcement & the recovery community to comprehensively address the opioid threat ravaging our nation.”

In their letters to the PBMs, the attorneys general asked that the companies adopt similar measures as CVS, including limiting to seven days the supply of opioids dispensed for certain acute prescriptions for patients who are new to the therapy, limiting the daily dosage of opioids dispensed based on the strength of the opioid, and requiring the use of immediate-release formulations of opioids before extended-release opioids are dispensed. The CVS program’s requirements are similar to the opioid prescribing guidelines recently issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).  

The multistate PBM letters were sent to:

  • Argus Health Systems, Inc.
  • Benecard Servies LLC
  • Envision Pharmaceutical Services LLC
  • Envolve Health
  • Express Scripts, Inc.
  • Humana, Inc.
  • Magellan Rx Management
  • MedImpact Healthcare Systems, Inc.
  • Navitus Health Solutions LLC
  • OptumRX , Inc.
  • PerformRx
  • Prime Therapeutics, Inc.
  • ProCare Rx
  • RxAdvance
  • WellDyneRx

“While there are no doubt additional measures that pharmacy benefit managers could take to combat prescription opioid abuse, we believe over-prescribing of opioids could be curtailed by the implementation of a CVS-type program,” the attorneys general wrote.

“The opioid epidemic is the most pressing public health crisis our country faces,” the attorneys general wrote. “It affects every state and has a devastating impact on communities – tearing apart families and stretching the budgets of local law enforcement and first responders as they do the difficult work on the front lines. For our part, attorneys general are pooling resources and coordinating across party lines to address the crisis.”

Opioids, both prescription and illicit, are now the main driver of drug overdose deaths nationwide. According to CDC, opioids were involved in 33,091 deaths in 2015, and opioid overdoses have quadrupled since 1999. The Utah Department of Health reports in Utah 23 individuals die from prescription drug overdoses every month, and from 2013-2015, Utah ranked 7th in the U.S. for drug poisoning deaths. From 2000 to 2015 Utah saw a nearly 400% increase in deaths from the misuse and abuse of prescription drugs.

In addition to AG Sean Reyes, those joining one or both of today’s letters include attorneys general from Alabama, Arizona, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Louisiana, Maine, Michigan, Montana, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia, the District of Columbia and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Please click here to view these letters.
https://attorneygeneral.utah.gov/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/Letters-to-CVS-and-PMBs.pdf

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EDITORS NOTES:

1. Find drug overdose death data on the CDC site: https://www.cdc.gov/drugoverdose/data/statedeaths.html

2. For Utah specific data on prescription drug overdoses visit: http://health.utah.gov/vipp/topics/prescription-drug-overdoses/

 

Utah Taking Back Unwanted Prescription Drugs on April 29

 

At No Cost to Utah, AG Office Provides Breakthrough Technology to Reclaim Prescription Drug Pills in an Environmentally Friendly Manner

 

SALT LAKE CITY April 28, 2017 – The Utah Attorney General’s Office (AGO) encourages Utahns to participate in the Utah Take Back on Saturday, April 29, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at locations statewide. Utahns can prevent pill abuse and theft by ridding their homes of potentially dangerous expired, unused, and unwanted prescription drugs. Find a take-back site at www.utahtakeback.org. The service is free and anonymous, no questions asked. Additionally, eco-friendly reclamation bags donated at no cost to the state will be available for distribution from take-back locations.

“Prescription drug abuse, particularly for painkillers, has risen to epidemic levels nationwide, and Utah is no exception,” said Attorney General Sean Reyes. “Prescription drugs, when administered and taken responsibly, can be a productive tool for pain management. But far too often, what begins innocently can lead to dependence and devastation.

“In addition to overprescription, unauthorized access to even properly prescribed painkillers is one of the biggest drivers toward addiction. Many users of street drugs like heroin start by abusing their own painkillers, then move to finding other people’s prescription drugs. Addicts may be soccer moms or executives. They can be our kids, grandkids, kids from the block, good students or bad students included.

“No community is immune. Addiction touches rural and urban areas, uptown or downtown neighborhoods alike. And whether we realize it or not, our medicine cabinets may be where they are looking next or where they may have already been.  By teaming up on Take Back Day with partners like the DEA, AARP, and businesses and citizens across our state, we will recover hundreds, if not thousands of pounds of prescription drugs.”

Improper disposal of unused and expired medications leads to damage of our environment. In the fight against opioid addiction, the AGO is grateful for eco-friendly reclamation bags donated at no cost to the state by private companies like Deterra and Mallinckrodt to thousands of Utah Take Back locations around the state. The bags can be filled with any pills, which they will dissolve and neutralize.  Measurable amounts of antibiotics, antidepressants, and medications have all been found in U.S. lakes and rivers. The eco-friendly, medication disposal system produced and donated for the Utah Take Back is highly effective in absorbing and firmly binding pharmaceuticals, rendering chemical compounds safe for landfills and reducing watershed contamination.

Utahns can prevent pill abuse and theft by ridding their homes of potentially dangerous expired, unused, and unwanted prescription drugs. Drop off unused, unneeded, and expired drugs is tomorrow, Saturday, April 29, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at locations statewide, in addition to year-round locations. The service is free and anonymous, no questions asked. For more information about the April 29th Take-Bake and to find a collection site near you, visit www.utahtakeback.org.

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