McKesson Recommends Quick Federal Action on Key Opioid Solution Ideas

October 31, 2017

Letter to Presidential Commission highlights opportunities to effect real change

SAN FRANCISCO, October 31, 2017 — Today, on the heels of the President declaring the opioid crisis as a “national public health emergency,” McKesson sets forth several recommendations on areas needing quick federal action.

In a letter to the President’s Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis, the company strongly recommended that the Administration consider two specific actions to reduce opioid diversion, misuse and abuse.

Prioritize a National Patient Safety Network for Safe Dispensing and Prescribing of Opioids

McKesson recommends that the Commission support the implementation of a “National Patient Safety Network” (the Network) which could identify patients whose prescription history indicates they may be at higher risk for opioid abuse or misuse. The Network would be complementary to existing state-level prescription drug monitoring programs (PDMPs), which currently lack comprehensive, real-time information and create onerous extra next steps for clinicians – both prescribers and pharmacists.

The Network could offer real-time flags that appear directly in the pharmacists’ workflow – in the same way that they review a patient’s insurance information and co-pay amount. Under this proposal, when pharmacists receive a ‘red flag,’ they could take action by voluntarily consulting their state PDMP, calling the prescribing doctor to confirm that the prescription is legitimate and sharing information about the patient’s recent opioid activity. The two clinicians could collaboratively determine the best course of action.

The idea for a National Patient Safety Network was originally surfaced by the National Council for Prescription Drug Programs (NCPDP) and McKesson has been part of a coalition working toward making it a reality.

 In its letter, McKesson urges the Commission to recommend that the President direct the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to use its Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategies (REMS) authority, to the fullest extent possible under the law, to support implementation of a National Patient Safety Network. We believe this will increase PDMP utilization in every state, promote data sharing and coordination, and ultimately save lives.

Leverage the Expertise and Experience of Pharmacists to Address the Opioid Epidemic

McKesson recommends that the Commission consider enacting policies that make it easier for pharmacists to provide medication-assisted treatment (MAT) and other clinical services to individuals suffering from opioid addiction. Last week, FDA Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb called for the expanded use of MAT for opioid addiction, as a means to reduce overdoses and deaths. Pharmacists are highly skilled, medically-trained professionals that are qualified to provide MAT, which combines the use of medication with counseling and behavioral therapies to treat substance use disorders.

Pharmacists are uniquely positioned to have a comprehensive view of a patient’s health status and they see the prescriptions and diagnoses of multiple physicians. This vantage point allows pharmacists to detect potential problems of drug interactions with opioids, potential misuse and/or signs of potential abuse.

“We urge the Administration and Congress to continue to explore both the adequate funding levels, and the most innovative public and private sector-generated public policy ideas that are critical to fighting this crisis,” said Pete Slone, senior vice president of public affairs, McKesson. “McKesson stands ready to work with the Administration, the Commission, Congress, the states, and all stakeholders to implement new solutions to combat the opioid epidemic.”

This complicated, multi-faceted public health crisis cannot be solved by any one participant. It needs to be addressed through a comprehensive approach that includes the doctors, patients, pharmacists, insurance companies, government payers (such as Medicaid and Medicare), distributors, manufacturers, law enforcement and regulators.

McKesson delivers life-saving medicines to millions of Americans each day. We are committed to engaging with all who share our dedication to acting with urgency to address this epidemic and working together to end this national crisis.

About McKesson Corporation

McKesson Corporation, currently ranked 5th on the FORTUNE 500, is a global leader in healthcare supply chain management solutions, retail pharmacy, community oncology and specialty care, and healthcare information technology. McKesson partners with pharmaceutical manufacturers, providers, pharmacies, governments and other organizations in healthcare to help provide the right medicines, medical products and healthcare services to the right patients at the right time, safely and cost-effectively. United by our ICARE shared principles, our employees work every day to innovate and deliver opportunities that make our customers and partners more successful — all for the better health of patients. McKesson has been named the “Most Admired Company” in the healthcare wholesaler category by FORTUNE, a “Best Place to Work” by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation, and a top military-friendly company by Military Friendly. For more information, visit

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