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National Opioid Settlements Could Place Burden on Independent Pharmacies

The opioid epidemic has resulted in a wave of lawsuits against national pharmacy chains, including Walgreens, CVS, and Rite Aid, for their alleged role in fueling the crisis by dispensing large quantities of prescription opioids. As a result, these pharmacy chains have agreed to pay billions of dollars in settlements to resolve these claims.

While the settlements primarily affect these large pharmacy chains, independent pharmacies may also be impacted. This is because some of the terms of the settlements require the pharmacies to implement new policies and procedures aimed at curbing the abuse and misuse of opioids. These policies may include enhanced training for pharmacists and staff, stricter prescription monitoring, and increased patient education.

Implementing these new policies and procedures can be expensive and time-consuming, which may disproportionately impact smaller independent pharmacies that may not have the same resources as the national chains. Additionally, independent pharmacies may also face increased scrutiny and regulation from state and federal authorities, which could further add to their costs and administrative burden.

The opioid settlements between national pharmacy chains and government entities often include a range of stipulations aimed at improving accountability and preventing future abuses. Some common stipulations that may be included in these settlements are:

Data reporting: The pharmacy chains may be required to regularly report data on their opioid dispensing practices to state or federal authorities. This could include information on the number of opioid prescriptions filled, the types and strengths of opioids dispensed, and any suspicious or fraudulent activities detected.

Annual training: The pharmacy chains may be required to provide annual training to their pharmacists and staff on responsible opioid dispensing practices. This could include training on how to identify and report suspicious prescribing patterns, how to counsel patients on the safe use and storage of opioids, and how to identify and respond to opioid overdose emergencies.

Independent compliance officer: The pharmacy chains may be required to appoint an independent compliance officer to oversee their opioid dispensing practices and ensure compliance with all legal and regulatory requirements. This officer would be responsible for monitoring and reporting on the pharmacy's opioid dispensing practices, identifying and addressing any issues or concerns, and ensuring that the pharmacy is following all applicable laws and regulations.

These stipulations are designed to help prevent future opioid abuses and improve patient safety. However, as mentioned earlier, they may also place a significant administrative burden on independent pharmacies that are required to comply with them. TabulaRx offer the most advanced control substance supply chain management that can offer compliance and reporting.

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