BACK AND FORTH: Lobbyists, Lawmakers Go Head to Head Over New Painkiller Controls
Lobbyists for drugmakers and pharmacies are at odds with lawmakers and law enforcement officials over a proposal to impose stricter controls on prescription drugs that are used to treat moderate to severe pain.
The proposal would require patients seeking refills of hydrocodone-combination products like Vicodin to receive new prescriptions and would enforce a higher level of security for the storage and transportation of the drugs, as well as increase penalties for misuse.
What supporters are saying: Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) who championed the push for tighter controls, said the drugs are “so readily accessible, so easy to obtain, that they are ravaging society and ending young lives.” Other supporters, including National President of the Fraternal Order of Police Chuck Canterbury, said the new restrictions would help reduce illegal trafficking of prescription drugs.
What opponents are saying: Pharmacists and drugstores argue that the controls would make it more difficult for patients suffering from pain to obtain treatment. They also say that the new restrictions would place financial burdens on pharmacies because they would have to buy and install larger safes to store the products. A representative for the American Cancer Society also said they feared patients would owe more copayments for doctor’s visits if they were required to make multiple visits to refill prescriptions.
OUR TAKE: Misuse of prescription painkillers is reaching epidemic levels. As a result, proposal that combat their proliferation are necessary, even if it means inconveniences for drugmakers and pharmacies and additional cost for some patients.
by Heather Drost, staff writer