In the community…


By a 2-to-1 margin, pharmacies and pharmacists are considered more as part of the solution than as part of the problem of opioid abuse.

In policy…


Support leveraging pharmacies’ role to help solve issues related to opioid abuse.

National poll of 1,995 registered voters, conducted January 4-6, 2019, by Morning Consult and commissioned by NACDS (margin of error +/- 2%).

Opioid Abuse Epidemic: NACDS’ Public Policy Recommendations

Legislate a 7-day supply limit for initial opioid prescriptions issued for acute pain

  • This limit is consistent with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Guideline for Prescribing Opioids for Chronic Pain
  • CDC clinical evidence: greater amount of initial opioid exposure is associated with greater risk for long-term use and addiction
  • Over 20 states already have taken action; federal legislation is needed for consistent patient carent patient care

Legislate a requirement that all prescriptions be issued electronically, with limited exceptions

  • E-prescribing enhances security and curbs fraud, waste and abuse; and Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) e-prescribing requirements call for two-factor authentication, reducing the likelihood of fraudulent prescribing
  • Federal and state action would be timely, as e-prescribing of controlled substances has only been legal in all 50 states since September 2015
  • Only 14 percent of controlled substance prescriptions are issued electronically

Create a nationwide prescription drug monitoring program (PDMP) through collaboration

  • Most states use data to help identify and prevent drug abuse and diversion, but program variances limit their effectiveness
  • It is necessary to harmonize state requirements for reporting and accessing PDMP data, and to create a nationwide system with unified expectations by healthcare providers and law enforcement
  • A nationwide PDMP would leverage e-prescribing to provide guidance for prescribers and dispensers in real-time when providing patient care

Provide manufacturer-funded mail-back envelopes for unused opioid drugs, available to patients at pharmacies upon request

  • Currently, many pharmacies offer disposal programs as appropriate by community and by store
  • A program featuring mail-back envelopes provides an option that is universally workable
  • State legislation could facilitate a mail-back program
  • Educational materials also are in use, and could be expanded in appropriate ways

Every day, pharmacists face a moment of truth. When presented with an opioid prescription, a pharmacist must make decisions as a provider of patient care, and as part of the drug-abuse solution. Based on these experiences, NACDS has announced four new recommendations on this complex issue, to complement pharmacy’s ongoing collaboration with other healthcare professionals and with law enforcement.

These new public policy concepts complement pharmacy’s existing and extensive collaborative efforts, including: compliance programs; pioneering e-prescribing; drug disposal; patient education; security initiatives; fostering naloxone access; stopping illegal online drug-sellers and rogue clinics; and more.


Every day, pharmacists face a moment of truth when presented with an opioid prescription, making decisions as a provider of patient care and as part of the solution to opioid-abuse epidemic. Patients understand that community pharmacy is part of the solution, providing trusted advice and quality healthcare services.

Solution Partners

Patients understand that community pharmacy and pharmacists are part of the solution to our nation’s opioid abuse epidemic. This is a distinction that we share with law enforcement.

Front Line Solutions

Based on the experiences of community pharmacists, these four integrated public policy strategies would further reduce the volume of unneeded and unused opioid medications entering the public domain, and reduce the chances that they fall into the wrong hands – while taking into account the needs of those most severely affected by chronic pain.

Policy Solutions To Opioid Crisis

As a greater amount of opioid exposure increases the risk of long-term use and addiction, lawmakers must adopt policies to promote careful prescribing practices for prescription opioids.

Recognize Pharmacists

Community pharmacists should be recognized as Medicare providers for the purposes of providing much-needed opioid antagonist counseling and risk factor intervention services, utilizing their skillsets to address opioid abuse and misuse.

Preventing Opioid Abuse

Both individually and collectively as the community pharmacy industry, NACDS members are playing a part in the solution through patient education, community partnerships, drug disposal, and supporting recovery.


People trust pharmacies for answers in times of need. We want to help provide quality, collaborative policy solutions, just like we provide health and wellness solutions to millions of patients and consumers every day.

2019 Pharmacy Opinion Research