- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 1, 2018

The Trump administration said Thursday it wants to check the flow of potentially dangerous opioids to seniors, curtailing initial fills of some pain pills and adding a “trigger” for patients who seek too many opioids from the pharmacist.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services proposed the changes as part of broader updates to the Medicare, the public insurance program for people 65 and older.

Under the proposal, pharmacists will flag patients who’ve been prescribed an amount of opioids that exceeds federal guidelines.

Patients can still take home a seven-day supply, but the trigger is designed to create a dialog between the patient and prescriber, “to make sure the appropriate amount of opioids is being prescribed,” Principal Deputy CMS Administrator Demetrios Kouzoukas said.

CMS also said initial fills for people suffering from shorter-term, acute pain should be capped to seven days or so.

The proposal also seeks ways to make sure patients don’t suffer adverse reactions from taking both opioids and a class of drugs known as benzodiazepines.

CMS will accept comments on the proposal through March 5, before finalizing new regulations.

The prescription painkiller and heroin epidemic is killing tens of thousands of Americans per year.

President Trump declared it a public health emergency in October, though his critics want to billions of dollars in new funding or other bold action, beyond administrative tweaks to rein in the problem.

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