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The Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA) & What It Means for Your Pharmacy

The Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA) & What It Means for Your Pharmacy by Elements magazine |

October 6, 2016

The opioid epidemic is a health crisis that’s rocking the nation.

But it didn’t start overnight.

Since 2000, the rate of deaths from drug overdoses has increased 137 percent, including a 200 percent increase in the rate of overdose deaths involving opioids, according to a January 2016 report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

To counteract this growing epidemic, President Obama signed the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA) into legislation July 22, 2016. CARA’s intent is to address the epidemic through six techniques:

1. Prevention
2. Treatment
3. Recovery
4. Law enforcement
5. Criminal justice reform
6. Overdose reversal

Find out more about CARA, what it means for independent community pharmacies and what you can do to support the federal addiction legislation in your pharmacy.

What is CARA?

The Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA) is the first major federal addiction legislation in 40 years. The legislation authorizes national funding and will work to diminish drug addiction through six pillars.

The six pillars include:
1. Expansion of prevention and educational efforts to prevent abuse and promote treatment and recovery.

2. Increased availability of naloxone, the opioid overdose-reversal drug.

3. Increased expansion of disposal sites, for individuals to safely dispose of their unwanted medications.

4. Expanded resources to properly treat incarcerated individuals suffering from addiction.

5. Development of treatment programs to determine the best practices of opioid and heroin treatment, as well as a medication-assisted treatment and intervention demonstration program.

6. Reinforcement of statewide prescription drug monitoring programs.

What does CARA mean for independent pharmacies?

Certain provisions of CARA reference pharmacists as being part of the solution to overcoming the epidemic.

H.R. 4976 would require the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to collaborate with an advisory committee prior to approving opioids lacking an abuse-deterrent formulation.

H.R. 4641 would assemble a task force of federal agencies and stakeholders (including pharmacists) to determine the best practices for treating acute and chronic pain.

And, H.R. 4586, better known as Lali’s Law, will increase funding to grants that support authorizing pharmacists to prescribe naloxone.

How can pharmacists support CARA?

CARA highlights pharmacists as playing a vital role in fighting the opioid epidemic in the U.S. Are you doing all that you can to support the legislation?

States are increasingly authorizing pharmacists to prescribe naloxone, and other opioid antagonists. Make sure to stay up-to-date on your state’s requirements and find out if you’re legally able to prescribe naloxone.

Independent pharmacies can also support CARA by offering medication disposal programs at their pharmacy. Disposal receptacles help eliminate unwanted prescriptions more safely and conveniently for patients. Check with your state board of pharmacy for specific requirements.

Pharmacists can also help fight prescription drug abuse and support the provisions of CARA by partnering with local law enforcement and other agencies. Consider joining forces with organizations like the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). Or, start small and work with local programs like D.A.R.E., to help reduce prescription drug abuse in your community.

Learn more ways to fight this national problem in your pharmacy with these tips for talking to your patients about prescription drug abuse.



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