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Alliance to Prevent the Abuse of Medicines Releases Federal Policy Recommendations to Combat Prescription Drug Abuse

April 9, 2014

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Alliance to Prevent the Abuse of Medicines (APAM) — a non-profit coalition founded by its members the American Medical Association (AMA), Cardinal Health, CVS Caremark, the Healthcare Distribution Management Association (HDMA), Prime Therapeutics, and Teva Pharmaceuticals — today released comprehensive, public health-focused policy recommendations to aid lawmakers in the pursuit of significantly reducing prescription drug abuse nationally.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) warns that the abuse of prescription medicines is a “growing, deadly epidemic” and reported in 2012 that more than 6 million Americans suffer from addiction to prescription drugs with one in 20 people in the U.S. using prescription painkillers for non-medical purposes.

Prescription drug abuse continues to grow into an increasingly dangerous and deadly public health issue, and lawmakers across the country have attempted to stem the tide and decrease abuse and misuse of prescription medications. However, approaches to solve the issue have not been comprehensive and the problem has worsened.

“As stewards of the prescription drug supply, the members of the Alliance to Prevent the Abuse of Medicines joined together in recognition of the urgent need to address this major issue impacting our nation’s public health,” said APAM spokesperson Danielle Hagen. “APAM was created to advance federal policies that could combat prescription drug abuse through a multi-faceted approach that will not only impact real change, but also save lives.”

The Alliance has identified prevention and education, early intervention, monitoring, treatment and disposal as core policy principles that it believes, if pursued in conjunction, will have a significant effect on the diversion and abuse of prescription medications.

Summaries of the nine specific concepts are outlined as follows:

  1. Public Health Approach- APAM recommends a public health approach to preventing the abuse of medicines by placing a premium on prevention, early identification of abuse, and treatment through promotion of public health tools such as widespread adoption of drug courts and Medicaid adoption of prescription drug abuse screening tools coverage.
  2. Improve the Effectiveness of Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs (PDMPs)- APAM believes that each state should operate an effective, interoperable and up-to-date PDMP that is integrated into prescriber and pharmacist workflow, and provide for prescriber notification and education in outlier cases.
  3. Abuse Deterrent Technology- APAM supports the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to require generic versions of extended-release, long acting opioids to have abuse-deterrent properties that are equal in effectiveness, but not necessarily identical to the brand. Abuse deterrent technology is an important and effective tool that should be used to help address prescription drug abuse, and should be incentivized for manufacturers to advance the development of this technology.
  4. Eliminating Pill Mills- APAM supports enforcement actions to halt “pill mill” activities through legislation that develops standards for pain management clinics and assists prescribers with guidelines on how to prescribe painkillers safely and effectively.
  5. Education on Prescription Drug Abuse- APAM supports education for the public – consumers, patients, and all stakeholders – to stop this public health epidemic and help prevent new cases of abuse.
  6. Medicaid Pharmacy Lock-In Program- APAM recommends improving state Medicaid pharmacy “Lock-In” programs as an avenue for states to prevent and fight the abuse of prescription medicines by Medicaid beneficiaries.
  7. Medicare Pharmacy Lock-In Program- APAM is currently evaluating prescription drug abuse within the Medicare program and is determining how to curb abuse in Medicare Part D plans. APAM is reviewing how to appropriately implement a Medicare “Lock-In” program.
  8. Enhance Oversight of Controlled Substances and Establish Prescription Drug Abuse Working Group- APAM supports bringing greater clarity to the requirements for the safe and secure distribution and dispensing of controlled substances and establishment of a prescription drug abuse working group to report to Congress.
  9. Take Back Program Proposal- APAM seeks to decrease the supply of diverted prescription drugs, and, to that end, supports the appropriate removal of unused, unneeded, or expired prescription drugs, including controlled substances, from medicine cabinets and out of the reach of potential abusers, and federal funding for a national framework to support accessible state-level Take Back locations.

For the complete document detailing each concept, visit

Endeavoring to act as a resource for policymakers, APAM has released these policy concepts in order to facilitate collaboration on Capitol Hill and will continue to work with legislators to develop achievable solutions to the prescription drug abuse epidemic.


Launched in 2013, the Alliance to Prevent the Abuse of Medicines is a non-profit partnership of key stakeholders in the prescription drug supply chain – manufacturers, distributors, pharmacy benefit managers, pharmacies, physicians – that have joined together to develop and offer policy solutions aimed at addressing the issue of prescription drug abuse. APAM members include the American Medical Association, Cardinal Health, CVS Caremark, Healthcare Distribution Alliance (HDA), Prime Therapeutics, and Teva Pharmaceuticals. To learn more about APAM, visit


HDA is the national association representing primary healthcare distributors, the vital link between the nation’s pharmaceutical manufacturers and healthcare providers. Each business day, HDA member companies ensure that over 15 million prescription medicines and healthcare products are delivered safely and efficiently to more than 200,000 pharmacies, hospitals, long-term care facilities, clinics and others nationwide. HDA and its members work daily to provide value and achieve cost savings, an estimated $42 billion each year to our nation’s healthcare system.


  • Danielle Hagan
  • (202) 365-6112
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