Pharmacists: Make special category for nursing home pain medication rule

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Report: Danger tripled for seniors with dementia taking antipsychotics
Report: Danger tripled for seniors with dementia taking antipsychotics
Seniors in long-term care facilities would have fewer problems with medication delays under a proposal submitted to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency on Monday by a leading group of pharmacists.

The DEA could create a registration sub-category within the “Institutional Practitioner” category in order to clear up regulatory issues surrounding some pain medications for long-term care residents, according to the National Community Pharmacists Association. The NCPA's proposed subcategory, “institutional facilitator,” would allow nurses to continue to relay orders for pain medications to pharmacists, without a written prescription from a physician. 

“This solution provides for the common goal of ensuring timely medication access to patients in pain while recognizing the DEA's mission to enforce the controlled substances laws and regulations of the United States,” NCPA said in comments submitted to the DEA.

Under the Controlled Substances Act, the DEA requires a written prescription from a physician in order to dispense pain medication to nursing home residents. NCPA claimed in its statement that recent DEA enforcement of the rule "has upended what for years had been accepted practice in long-term care facilities: utilizing nurses to relay information between the physicians and pharmacists ... to treat residents' pain." The association says that the DEA currently allows hospitals to use such "nurse as agent" exchanges, but not long-term care facilities. More than 30% of all independent community pharmacies service a long-term care community, according to the NCPA.