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Last Updated
April 16, 2014
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April 16, 2014
U.S. Spending on Prescription Drugs Rose 3.2% in 2013
After rising only 1% in 2012, Americans' spending on prescription medicines in 2013 increased 3.2%
to nearly $330 billion, according to a report by the IMS Institute for Healthcare Informatics.
"Following several years of decline, 2013 was striking for the increased use by patients of all
parts of the U.S. healthcare system – even in advance of full implementation of the Affordable Care
Act," stated Murray Aitken, executive director of the IMS Institute for Healthcare Informatics.
"Growth in medicine spending remains at historically low levels despite a significant uptick last
year, and continues to contribute to the bending of the healthcare cost curve."  (Source:  NACDS

April 7, 2014
One in Three Patients Fails to Fill Initial Prescriptions: Study
Nearly a third (31.3%) of all first-time drug prescriptions were not filled by patients within nine
months, with nonadherence highest for expensive drugs and chronic disease prevention therapies,
according to a study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine. Nonadherence factors were higher
copayments, recent hospitalization and more severe comorbid conditions. The study, conducted by a
primary care network, was aimed at estimating the incidence of primary nonadherence in primary care
and identifying drug-, patient- and physician-related characteristics associated with nonadherence.
Medscape (Free Registration Required).

April 7, 2014
FDA Commissioner’s Statement on Prescription Opioid Abuse
For more than a decade, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has been working to address the
important public health problems associated with the misuse, abuse, addiction and overdose of
opioid analgesics, while at the same time working to ensure continued access to effective and
appropriate medications for millions of Americans currently suffering from pain. I firmly believe
that these goals are compatible, and that actions to address one should not be at the expense of
the other.

Tragically, the most recent data shows that more than 16,000 lives are lost each year due to
opioid-related overdoses. In fact, drug overdose deaths, driven largely by prescription drug
overdose deaths, are now the leading cause of injury death in the United States – surpassing motor
vehicle crashes. We know that the illegal diversion, misuse, and abuse of prescription opioids are
often fueled by inappropriate prescribing, improper disposal of unused medications, and the illegal
activity of a small number of health care providers. This highlights the important role that
education of prescribers and patients can play in addressing this epidemic. The FDA has taken steps
to address this but more work remains to be done.

Combatting the serious public health problem of misuse, abuse, addiction and overdose from opioid
analgesics is a high priority. Since 2001 the FDA has taken a number of actions designed to help
address prescription opioid abuse and to encourage the development of new drug treatments for pain.
These actions include:

• Revising the labeling for opioid medications to foster their safe and appropriate use, including
recent changes to the indications and safety warnings of extended-release and long-acting opioids. 
• Requiring that manufacturers conduct studies of the safety of long-term use of prescription opioids. 
• Improving appropriate prescribing by physicians and use by patients through educational materials
required as a part of a risk mitigation strategy for extended-release and long-acting opioids.
• Using the agency’s expedited review programs to advance development of new non-opioid medications
to treat pain with the goal of bringing new non- or less-abusable products to market.
• Recommending that hydrocodone-containing combination products have additional restrictions on
their use by rescheduling them from Schedule III to Schedule II.
• Strengthening surveillance efforts to actively monitor the changing nature of prescription opioid
abuse and to identify emerging issues.
• And, importantly, encouraging the development of medications to treat opioid abuse, such as
buprenorphine for use in medication-assisted treatment, and to reverse opioid overdoses, such as

Today’s FDA approval of Evzio (naloxone autoinjector) provides an important new tool in our arsenal
to more effectively combat the devastating effects of opioid overdose, which is one part of our
comprehensive work to support opioid safety. Reflecting the FDA’s commitment to encouraging
important new therapies, the FDA’s review of Evzio was granted priority status, and the application
was reviewed by the FDA in just 15 weeks. This product is the first auto-injector designed to
rapidly reverse the overdose of either prescription or illicit opioids. While the larger goal is to
reduce the need for products like these by preventing opioid addiction and abuse, they are
extremely important innovations that will help to save lives.

April 1, 2014
Helping patients keep an up-to-date medication list
NCPIE serves as co-editor for a monthly column in Pharmacy Today (American
Pharmacists Association) The column is entitled “One-to-One” and is intended to help develop
pharmacists’ medication communication and counseling skills to promote safe and appropriate
medicine use. 

March 19, 2014
CVS Offers Talking Labels for Online Prescriptions
CVS is now offering talking prescription labels, dubbed ScripTalk, for prescriptions ordered online
for home delivery to the blind or visually impaired. Customers can also get a free ScripTalk reader
from Envision America that will let them listen to the information on the labels. CVS collaborated
with the American Foundation for the Blind, American Council of the Blind and California Council of
the Blind to make these labels possible.

See Related --Best Practices for Making
Prescription Drug Container Label Information Accessible to Persons Who are Blind or
Visually-Impaired or Who are Elderly by the Access Board Working Group on Accessible Prescription
Drug Container Labels.

NCPIE was pleased to serve on this US Access Board Working Group.