In a letter sent to fifteen health-care companies that provide pharmacy benefit management (PBM), several state attorney generals, led by Connecticut Attorney General George Jepsen, encouraged these companies to provide programs to mitigate prescription opioid abuse.
Opioids, both prescription and illicit, are now the main driver of drug overdose deaths nationwide, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The bipartisan group of attorneys general from states including Arizona, Indiana, Michigan and Virginia, signed these letters in an effort to influence company executives, according to an Oct. 20 press release from the attorney general’s office.
PBMs administer prescription drug plans and provide cost-effectiveness and easy access to medication for more than 266 million Americans who have health insurance from a variety of sponsors, according to the Pharmaceutical Care Management Association’s website.
These joint letters were sent to Argus Health Systems, Benecard Services, Envision Pharmaceutical Services, Evolve Health, Express Scripts, Humana, Magellan Rx Management, MedImpact Healthcare Systems, Navitus Health Solutions, OptumRx, PerformRx, Prime Therapeutics, ProCareRx, RxAdvance, and WellDyneRx, according to the statement.
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, the statement said.
"All of us – law enforcement, first responders, policymakers, healthcare providers, individuals and families – have an important role to play in addressing this epidemic," Jepsen said. "I commend CVS for taking steps to reduce prescription opioid abuse, a contributing factor in the opioid crisis that has impacted Connecticut and communities across the country. Today, my colleagues and I are strongly urging other PBMs to take similar steps and join with us all in action help stop opioid abuse."
The attorneys general urged the other fifteen PBMs to adopt similar measures as CVS by limiting opioid dosage and supply when filling prescriptions, and requiring patients to use immediate-release formulations before requesting extended-release opioids, according to a letter to Benecard Services.
"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."
Data for this graph was derived from drug abuse statistics collected by the office of the Attorney General.
Andrew Miano is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.