August 2017
David Craig, PharmD | Editor


Opioid Crisis a National Emergency? To Be or Not to Be…

President Trump announced on August 10, 2017, that due to one of the recommendations of the draft report from the Christie Commission, he was declaring the opioid crisis a national emergency. He was not clear on what the emergency powers would entail. This is a reversal from his previous statement earlier in the month when he indicated he would not declare it an emergency after conferring with HHS Secretary Tom Price. According to Price…”the resources that we need or the focus we need to bring to bear on the opioid crisis, at this point, can be addressed without the declaration of an emergency.” (The Atlantic



The Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) Proposes a Reduction to the Amount of Controlled Substances to Be Manufactured In 2018

The DEA has proposed 2018 aggregate production quotas and provided an assessment of annual needs representing those quantities of schedule I and II controlled substances, to be manufactured in the United States to provide for the estimated medical, scientific, research, and industrial needs of the United States, lawful export requirements, and the establishment and maintenance of reserve stocks. These quotas do not include imports of controlled substances for use in industrial processes.

Please go to and follow the online instructions at that site for submitting comments. To ensure proper handling of comments, please reference “Docket No. DEA-471N” on all correspondence, including any attachments. Electronic comments must be submitted, and written comments must be postmarked, on or before September 6, 2017.



Pharmacy Benefit Management Companies Independently Changing the Way Opioids are Dispensed

Express-Scrips, the nation’s largest pharmacy benefit manager will soon limit the number and strength of opioid drugs prescribed to first-time users as part of a wide-ranging effort to curb an epidemic affecting millions of Americans. Under the program, new opioid users are limited to 7-day prescriptions, even if the doctor orders scripts for longer. The average prescription is for 22 days.

The program also requires short-acting drugs for first-time opioid prescriptions, even though many doctors prescribe long-acting opioids. Dosage is also limited, and the company will monitor and try to prevent for patterns of potential “pill shopping.” The program does not apply to patients in hospice or palliative care or to cancer patients.

A competitor, CVS Caremark, has a similar program with a 10-day limit on opioids and limits the dosage. Patients must start on short-acting drugs, and physicians are required to regularly assess patients using opioid prescriptions.

National Advisory Council on Drug Abuse Meeting

The National Institute on Drug Abuse announces a meeting of the National Advisory Council on Drug Abuse. The meeting will address reports of administrative, legislative, and program developments in the drug abuse field. The meeting is scheduled for Sept. 6, 2017, in Rockville, MD. Comments are requested, but a due date is not specified. Contact: Susan Weiss; NIDA, Office of the Director; 301.443.6487;



Upcoming Meetings

Alliance for Balanced Pain Management annual “Summit on Balanced Pain Management”
(registration available on website)
November 14, 2018