Senate passes the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act

Jul 15, 2016

On July 13, 2016, the United States Senate passed S.524, the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA), which provides resources to help treat and stop the spread of opioid abuse. The House of Representatives passed S.524 on July 8. The bill now heads to President Obama for his signature. CARA contains a number of policies key to the pharmacy community.These provisions include:

  • Partial Fill – Pharmacists coordinating with the doctor and patient and in accordance with State law, may not fill the entire amount of a prescription for a Schedule II substance, such as opioids.
  • Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs (PDMPs) - States will be eligible for grant funding to implement prescription drug monitoring programs. The language does not require a dispenser to check the PDMP prior to dispensing a narcotic.
  • Medicare Part D “Lock-In” – Allows Medicare Part D and Medicare Advantage prescription drug plans to develop a safe prescribing and dispensing program for beneficiaries that are at risk of abuse or diversion of drugs that are frequently abused or diverted. The provision allows the Secretary of HHS to work with private drug plan sponsors to facilitate the creation and management of “lock-in” programs to curb identified fraud, abuse, and misuse of prescribed medications while at the same time ensuring that legitimate beneficiary access to needed medications is not impeded. The language provides an exemption to “lock-in” provision for pharmacies that use real-time databases as well as Part D beneficiaries in skilled nursing facilities (SNF) and other settings.
  • Task Force on Pain Management – Creates a task force to review best practices for chronic and acute pain management and prescribing pain medication. Pharmacists will be part of the task force.

The AmerisourceBergen Government Affairs Team will monitor closely the implementation of this legislation.