Working Together to Prevent Prescription Drug Abuse
March 30th, 2016

Over 80 Organizations Sign Letter to Congress Asking for Robust, Adequately Funded PDMPs

February 23, 2016

Dear Leader McConnell, Minority Leader Reid, Speaker Ryan and Minority Leader Pelosi:

We write to you as leading participants in the prescription drug supply chain – i.e., manufacturers, distributors, payers, physicians, pharmacies, testing laboratories, treatment providers – as well as patient groups, business leaders, and other expert parties, to urge the full support of Congress (and state legislatures) of the continued expansion and deployment of robust and interoperable Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs (PDMPs) in each of the 50 states.  We recognize that the focus of Congress is in the development of federal policy, but advise that the complexity and interplay between federal and state policy in addressing the prescription drug abuse epidemic is undisputed and recommend a committed partnership between all levels of government to realize this objective.

The current trajectory of non-medical abuse of prescription opioids, and the diversion of these important medicines from their intended purpose, is troubling and unacceptable.  The U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) reported that in 2013 nearly 23,000 Americans died from prescription drug overdose.   As of 2011, the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) estimated that more than 52 million Americans ages 12 and older had used prescription drugs non-medically in their lifetime. Fifty-four percent of non-medical users of prescription drugs surveyed claim they obtained the medicines from a friend or family member.

Prescription drug diversion and abuse is a public health crisis that must be confronted and addressed comprehensively, and with the collaboration of all stakeholders.  While many of the signatories on this letter have put forth comprehensive approaches to addressing prescription drug abuse and diversion – e.g., consumer and physician education, prevention and intervention, disposal, and treatment – and such elements certainly must be pursued vigorously, there is consensus among nearly all stakeholders regarding the need for each state to fully develop and operate a robust and efficiently-deployed PDMP.

PDMPs are statewide electronic databases designed to monitor the prescribing and dispensing of controlled substances — or scheduled drugs, as determined by federal regulation.  PDMPs have been shown to assist physicians in identifying patterns of prescribing and abuse so that prevention, intervention and treatment can occur.  There is sufficient validating evidence demonstrating that a reduction in incidences of doctor shopping correlates to a reduction in abuse.

But while 49 states currently operate PDMPs, a combination of factors, including widely varying data elements, a lack of interoperability and dedicated resources, and an inadequate level of resources committed by many states, has served to chill the regular use of PDMPs.  These factors only serve to embolden abusers who more readily circumvent the program by selecting providers who do not regularly consult PDMPs, or cross state borders that do not have interoperability with other state PDMPs .

A robust and effective PDMP should include a litany of elements, but we believe that these programs at a minimum must be adequately maintained and funded, available at the point-of-care with up-to-date information, and integrated into the prescriber and dispenser workflow.  When these characteristics are achieved, PDMPs will represent a major step toward ensuring that patients have access to the care they need, and that these medicines are not inappropriately prescribed, dispensed or diverted.  Other desired elements for an effective PDMP include, among others:

  • Interoperability between state databases
  • Easier access requirements for physicians, e.g., user name and password processes
  • Physician access to patient prescription history, both his/hers or other prescribing
  • physicians
  • Physician authorization to delegate practice monitoring responsibilities to office personnel
  • Protection of patient confidentiality
  • Support of a public health over a law enforcement function

The first major Congressional step that could be taken immediately to bolster PDMP programs and combat the growing prescription drug health problem would be to reauthorize the National All Schedules Prescription Electronic Reporting Act (NASPER).  We applaud the U.S. House of Representatives for passing its NASPER reauthorization bill, H.R. 1725, and encourage the Senate to act on this important legislation swiftly. This program was created in 2005 to allow the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) to award grants to states to establish or enhance PDMPs, and establish best practices.  NASPER has not been funded since a prohibition was included in the FY2011 continuing resolution (P.L. 112-10); however, we are confident that reauthorization and full funding of NASPER would be a significant step toward reversing the current trajectory of abuse.

We thank you for your consideration of this request, and hope that you will consider each of the stakeholders on this letter to be partners in the effort to combat this growing public health problem.


Advocacy Council of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology

Alaska State Medical Association

America’s Health Insurance Plans

American Academy of Emergency Medicine

American Academy of Family Physicians

American Academy of Home Care Medicine

American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine

American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons

American Academy of Otolaryngic Allergy

American Academy of Otolaryngology—Head and Neck Surgery

American Academy of Pain Management

American Academy of Pain Medicine

American Academy of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation

American Association for Geriatric Psychiatry

American Association of Neurological Surgeons

American College of Emergency Physicians

American College of Phlebology

American College of Physicians

American College of Rheumatology

American College of Surgeons

American Medical Association

American Osteopathic Association

American Psychiatric Association

American Rhinological Society

American Society of Addiction Medicine

American Society of Dermatopathology

American Society of Echocardiography

American Society of Interventional Pain Physicians

American Society of Plastic Surgeons

Arkansas Medical Society

California Medical Association

Cardinal Health

Colorado Medical Society

Congress of Neurological Surgeons

CVS Health

Federation of State Medical Boards

Generic Pharmaceutical Association

Healthcare Distribution Management Association

Idaho Medical Association

Illinois State Medical Society

Indiana State Medical Association

International Society for the Advancement of Spine Surgery

Iowa Medical Society


Kansas Medical Society

Kentucky Medical Association

Mallinckrodt Pharmaceuticals

Massachusetts Medical Society

MedChi, The Maryland State Medical Society

Medical Association of the State of Alabama

Medical Society of Delaware

Medical Society of New Jersey

Medical Society of the District of Columbia

Medical Society of the State of New York

Medical Society of Virginia

Michigan State Medical Society

Millennium Health

Mississippi State Medical Association

Missouri State Medical Association

National Association of Chain Drug Stores

National Association of Medical Examiners

Nebraska Medical Association

New Hampshire Medical Society

North American Neuromodulation Society

North Carolina Medical Society

North Dakota Medical Association

Ohio State Medical Association

Oregon Medical Association

Pain Care Coalition

Pennsylvania Medical Society

Pharmaceutical Care Management Association

Prime Therapeutics

Rhode Island Medical Society

Society of Hospital Medicine

South Dakota State Medical Association

Spine Intervention Society, The

Tennessee Medical Association

Teva Pharmaceuticals

Texas Medical Association

The American Pain Society

The Center for Medicine in the Public Interest

The Pain Community

Urgent Care Association of America

Utah Medical Association

Vermont Medical Society

Virginia Cancer Pain Initiative

Washington State Medical Association

Wisconsin Medical Society


Chairman Lamar Alexander

Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor &Pensions

Ranking Member Patty Murray

Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor &Pensions

Chairman Fred Upton

House Committee on Energy and Commerce

Ranking Member Frank Pallone

House Committee on Energy and Commerce

Chairman Thad Cochran

U.S. Senate Committee on Appropriations

Vice Chairwoman Barbara Mikulski

Senate Committee on Appropriations

Chairman Harold Rogers

House Committee on Appropriations

Ranking Member Nita Lowey

House Committee on Appropriations

Alliance to Prevent the Abuse of Medicines Applauds Administration Efforts to Curb Prescription Drug Abuse

Industry leaders encouraged by new public-private partnerships

WASHINGTON, D.C. (October 22, 2015)—The Alliance to Prevent the Abuse of Medicines – a non-profit coalition founded by its members the American Medical Association (AMA), Cardinal Health, CVS Health, the Healthcare Distribution Management Association (HDMA), kaléo, Prime Therapeutics, Millennium Health, and Teva Pharmaceuticals – today released a statement applauding the Obama Administration for its leadership in coalescing provider groups, pharmacies, policymakers, advocates and other stakeholders in a national campaign to curb prescription drug abuse.

“The Alliance is encouraged by the commitment the Administration has shown to addressing this deadly public health issue and our members are extremely pleased to be among those stakeholders involved in this widespread partnership,” said Alliance spokesperson Danielle Hagen. “Prescription drug abuse is a complex, pervasive problem that we believe requires immediate action by policymakers at every level of government. We have been urging federal legislators to pass comprehensive, life-saving legislative solutions and we hope that this is the first step of many.”

In 2014, the Alliance released its nine legislative concepts , which address prevention, education, early intervention, drug monitoring, treatment, and safe disposal. As stakeholders from across the entire domestic drug supply chain, the Alliance members have come together to encourage lawmakers, nonprofits, state and federal governments, and members of the media to join the discussion on how to curb prescription drug abuse.

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Quick Action on Opioid Abuse Bill Pledged

By Melanie Zanona

CQ Roll Call

Washington, D.C. – Bipartisan legislation to curb prescription drug and heroin abuse could move through committee this fall and arrive on the Senate floor by early next year, according to the bill’s sponsors, who indicated they are open to tweaking the package to attract more support.

Republican Rob Portman of Ohio and Democrat Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island said their measure (S 524) to address opioid addiction and recovery recently picked up two GOP cosponsors on the Senate Judiciary Committee – the panel with jurisdiction over the bill. The pair is optimistic that the wide-ranging package will receive consideration later this year, although they are battling a tight legislative calendar.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., while supportive of efforts to combat opioid abuse, has so far mostly thrown his weight behind a measure (S 799) to prevent infants from being born with an opioid addiction.

The Portman-Whitehouse plan was first introduced in late 2014 and never received a markup, but supporters think this year could be different. The measure is backed by at least 15 lawmakers, including Senate Finance Chairman Orrin G. Hatch, R-Utah, and Democrat Charles E. Schumer of New York.

“There’s been a real shift in the appreciation for what addiction is, how it works and how we should respond to it as a society. That shift is the cornerstone of our legislation,” Whitehouse said at a panel discussion Wednesday hosted by the Alliance to Prevent the Abuse of Medicines.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has called the incidence of prescription drug and heroin abuse a national epidemic, noting that more Americans now die from opioid overdoses more than car accidents.

The issue has garnered the attention of the White House and Congress, with President Barack Obama and House and Senate appropriators all proposing to boost spending to target opioid abuse and addiction in fiscal 2016. The Health and Human Services Department announced Tuesday it would award $500 million in funding from the 2010 health care overhaul (PL 111-148, PL 111-152) to community health centers for primary care services, in part to treat substance abuse.

The plan backed by Portman and Whitehouse would expand educational and prevention efforts, increase access to drugs that can reverse the effects of overdose and launch evidence-based treatment and intervention programs.

The measure also would strengthen prescription drug-monitoring programs in states. Whitehouse called the current patchwork of state programs a “mushy smorgasbord.” He emphasized the need for a strong federal partner and better interoperability between states.

Whitehouse acknowledged the legislation is a “work in progress” and both senators indicated that they are willing to explore other proposals that would strengthen their efforts.

“We’d like to move what we have, but we are always open to new ways to make progress,” Portman said.

Ohio hospitals seek federal help to fight prescription drug addiction

By Sabrina Eaton

The Plain Dealer

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Representatives of Ohio’s children’s hospitals visited Capitol Hill this week to seek aid in fighting a growing prescription drug abuse problem that’s made drug overdoses Ohio’s top cause of death and has dramatically increased the number of babies born addicted to drugs. Read More


By Brianna Ehley


WASHINGTON —Sens. Rob Portman and Sheldon Whitehouse, along with the Alliance to Prevent the Abuse of Medicines, will host a roundtable discussion about prescription drug abuse at 2 p.m. in the Kennedy Caucus Room of the Russell Senate Office Building. Read More

Senators Join Physicians, Pharmacists, Advocates and Experts for Discussion on Comprehensive Solutions to Prescription Drug Abuse Ohio mother to share story of child born with opioid addiction

WASHINGTON (September 16, 2015) – Experts representing those on the front lines of the battle against prescription drug abuse joined Senators Rob Portman (R-OH) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) for a candid discussion hosted by the Alliance to Prevent the Abuse of Medicines (the Alliance) on Wednesday, September 16 from 2:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. in the Kennedy Room in the Russell Senate Office Building. The roundtable, moderated by Richard Hamburg, deputy director at Trust for America’s Health , focused on sharing best practices and providing policy recommendations for Congress.

Panelists ranged from pain and addiction specialists to non-profit leaders and advocates including: Fred Wells Brason II, president and CEO of the community-based opioid overdose prevention program Project Lazarus , Tom Davis, vice president of Pharmacy Professional Services for CVS Health , Dr. Randy Easterling, veteran addiction psychologist and medical director at Marion Hill Chemical Dependency Unit , Paul Gileno, chronic pain survivor and founder and president of the U.S. Pain Foundation , Dr. Cathy Starner, pharmacotherapy specialist and principal health outcomes researcher at Prime Therapeutics , and Dr. Michele Walsh, neonatal specialist and professor of pediatrics, chief of the neonatology division and interim chairperson of the pediatrics department at University Hospitals Rainbow Babies and Childrens Hospital and Case Western Reserve University .

Carrie Baker , director of public policy and advocacy for the Ohio Children’s Hospital Association and adoptive mother of an infant born addicted to opioids, opened the event by sharing her personal story and gratitude to panelists for bringing attention to this issue.

Earlier this year, Senators Portman and Whitehouse introduced bipartisan legislation aimed at combatting addiction and overdoses.

“I’ve seen firsthand how the opioid epidemic is hurting Ohio families and communities,” Portman stated. “It’s critical that we tackle this issue head on which is why I’ve introduced legislation to help turn the tide in the struggle against opioids. It’s critical that we continue to come together to implement a comprehensive strategy that both addresses opioid abuse and supports long-term recovery to help Americans struggling with addiction.”

“More than 200 people died from drug overdoses last year just in Rhode Island, and our states and municipalities urgently need more resources to help prevent addiction and support recovery,” said Whitehouse.  “I’ll keep working with Senator Portman and others to urge Congress to take action.”

The Alliance, founded in 2013 by its members the American Medical Association (AMA), Cardinal Health, CVS Health, Healthcare Distribution Management Association (HDMA), kaléo, Millennium Health, Prime Therapeutics, and Teva Pharmaceuticals, has been working alongside federal legislators to craft comprehensive solutions to the growing prescription drug abuse epidemic. As stakeholders from across the entire domestic drug supply chain, the Alliance members have come together to encourage lawmakers, nonprofits, state and federal governments, and members of the media to join the discussion on how to curb prescription drug abuse.

Prescription drug abuse has been described by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as a “growing, deadly epidemic” that impacts more that 6 million Americans and has become a key policy issue for legislators on the local, state, and federal level as it continues to ravage communities across the country.

“Prescription drug abuse is a complex issue that requires a multi-faceted, effective approach that incorporates stakeholders at every level—from industry leaders to community activists,” said Alliance spokesperson Danielle Hagen . “The Alliance has organized this event for more than just a unique discussion; this is a call to action for legislators on both sides of the aisle to come together and push forward comprehensive, lifesaving policy solutions.”

Alliance to Prevent the Abuse of Medicines Issues Open Letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell

WASHINGTON, DC (June 4, 2015) – In an open letter to Secretary of Health and Human Services Sylvia Burwell, the Alliance to Prevent the Abuse of Medicines (APAM) praised the Secretary for her leadership in connecting with state governors on prescription drug abuse and expressed its members’ hope to engage further with her agency to develop solutions to this growing public health issue.

The letter emphasized the need for a comprehensive, public health approach and offered APAM membership as a resource for the opioid abuse summit the Secretary plans to host with state and federal policy makers.

The full text of the letter is included below.

June 3, 2015

The Honorable Sylvia Mathews Burwell


U.S. Department of Health & Human Services

200 Independence Avenue, SW

Washington, DC 20201

Dear Secretary Burwell:

We write to you as the Alliance to Prevent the Abuse of Medicines to thank you for your April 6, 2015, letter to each of the state governors expressing your concern about prescription drug diversion, abuse and addiction, and your strategic priorities to address it; and to engage further with your agency in a dialogue regarding this serious public health problem.

The Alliance to Prevent the Abuse of Medicines – comprised of the American Medical Association (AMA) , Cardinal Health , CVS Health , Healthcare Distribution Management Association (HDMA), kaléo , Millennium Health , Prime Therapeutics , and Teva Pharmaceuticals – has been working to raise awareness of the issue of prescription drug abuse, partner with legislators to craft concrete and achievable solutions, and serve as a resource for policymakers and the media. Last year, the Alliance publicly released a set of solutions concepts that represents a multi-faceted approach that includes education, disposal, monitoring, and treatment, and, more recently, held a high-level meeting of key governors, senators, industry stakeholders, and Administration officials, including a representative from your own Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).

While the Alliance focuses primarily on federal solutions to diversion and abuse, the complexity and interplay between federal and state policy in addressing this epidemic is undisputed. To this end, we were encouraged by your outreach to the governors, in which you conveyed your commitment and pledged to host a second opioid summit that would convene policymakers at both the state and federal levels. The Alliance believes that the growing public health problem of prescription drug diversion, abuse, and addiction must be confronted and addressed through a collaborative effort by all stakeholders. As a coalition focused on this issue that includes representation across the domestic supply chain, the Alliance respectfully offers its membership as a resource for that summit, and very much hopes that those who manufacture, distribute, prescribe, dispense, test, and treat will be included in that important conversation.

The statistics are troubling and clear – 15,000 American lives are claimed by prescription drug abuse each year. And as troubling as the lives claimed are the lives placed in jeopardy as this diversion and abuse can tragically deprive those who legitimately need medicines of access to quality care, and threaten the welfare and health of those afflicted by addiction and abuse, as well as those associated with them.

We hope that the Alliance can be a resource and partner to you, and we look forward to engaging in this dialogue.   For more information regarding the Alliance, you can visit: or contact us at [email protected] .


The Alliance to Prevent the Abuse of Medicines

Alliance to Prevent the Abuse of Medicines Issues Open Letter to Senate Appropriations Committee Urging Increased Funding to Battle Prescription Drug Abuse

WASHINGTON, DC (May 12, 2015) – In an open letter sent to the Senate Appropriations Committee Subcommittee on Labor-HHS-Education, the Alliance to Prevent the Abuse of Medicines urged the need for dedicated resources to be put forth toward curbing prescription drug abuse and misuse – an emerging healthcare issue facing the nation.

The letter highlighted the complexity of this growing public health threat and the necessity for federal and state leaders to collaborate on achievable solutions. The Alliance focused the attention of the Senate appropriators to the importance of increased funding for Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs (PDMPs) within the states, and offered its services as a resource and partner. Read More

Alliance to Prevent the Abuse of Medicines Urges Nation’s Governors to Improve Prescription Drug Abuse Monitoring Programs

WASHINGTON, DC (May 6, 2015) – In an open letter sent to governors of all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and territories, the Alliance to Prevent the Abuse of Medicines applauded state leaders on their commitment to tackling prescription drug abuse and urged their focus on the importance of fully funded, interoperable Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs (PDMPs). Read More

Bipartisan Governors and U.S. Senate Leaders Headline Prescription Abuse Forum at U.S. Chamber

WASHINGTON (February 23, 2015) – The Alliance to Prevent the Abuse of Medicines (the Alliance) , in partnership with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and CQ Roll Call , is convening thought leaders and lawmakers during an open discussion on the economic impact of the prescription drug abuse facing businesses and employees on Monday, February 23 from 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. in the Hall of Flags at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce . Read more

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