The country’s largest pharmacy benefit-manager will soon be changing its policy on opioid prescriptions. They will soon limit the amount of opioids dispensed to someone using the drugs for the first time to a 7-day supply.
They are drawing criticism from the American Medical Association, which is saying that prescriptions should be left up to doctors and patients. It really won’t help stop opioid addiction, it will just make patients turn to the streets to get more drugs.
The program will require new users of opioids to only be given 7 days of opioids, even if they are given a much longer prescription. The average opioids prescription is for 22 days.
They also require fast-acting opioids be prescribed, even though most doctors prescribe longer-acting drugs. The dosage is also limited. It is meant to allow Express Scripts to watch for prescription shopping, which is the practice of going to multiple doctors to try and get more pills.
Snezana Mahon, the Missouri-based Express Scripts’ vice president of clinical product development, said:
“A lot of times physicians are prescribing these drugs blindly. They don’t know that a patient may be going to see multiple prescribers.”
Dr. Patrice Harris, an Atlanta psychiatrist who chairs the American Medical Association’s Opioids Task Force, said:
“We want to be proactive in making sure the alternatives are available, versus a sort of blunt, one-size-fits-all-all approach regarding the number of prescriptions. The AMA’s take has always been that the decision about a specific treatment alternative is best left to the physician and their patient.”
If the doctor wants a longer prescription, they can request it. This just creates more of an administrative burden for the doctors, and it delays care for the patient.
This program affects people who are on Express Scripts via their work or marketplace insurance.
Featured image via Twitter.