Two points of view collided recently in the state’s capital regarding proposed Florida legislation to provide coverage for brand-name prescription painkillers — generic alternatives notwithstanding — as pharmaceutical stakeholders argued against its efficacy given opioid abuse statistics.
Senate Bill 422, introduced by State Sen. Lizbeth Benaquisto (R-30), would allow health insurance policies that already cover opioid analgesic drug products to pre-authorize brand-name versions of the medications. If approved, the bill would take effect Jan. 1, 2017.
"I am proud to champion this bill to help fight prescription pain killer abuse in our state," Benaquisto said in post on her Facebook page.
The bill, titled Health Insurance Coverage for Opioids, strikes the Pharmaceutical Care Management Association (PCMA), however, as ineffectual, costly, and problematic.
"Prescription drug abuse in Florida and nationwide is a serious problem that deserves real solutions," Charles Cote, vice president of strategic communications at PCMA in Washington, D.C., told Florida Business Daily. "Unfortunately, this legislation does not address the problem and will raise costs for the state's employers and public health programs. A better solution for reducing prescription drug abuse is to prevent potential abusers from getting inappropriate drugs at the pharmacy counter."
Cote pointed to “lock-in” provisions practiced in other venues and currently on the table for Congress, which would instruct Medicare plans to safely dispense controlled substances to consumers at risk for abuse. This approach was previously suggested by U.S. Rep. Kevin Brady (R-TX), chairman of the Ways and Means Subcommittee on Health, as well as in 2015’s Century Cures Act (HR 6) to protect access but discourage habitual drugstore hopping by abusers bent on acquiring their desired drugs.
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