Every day, thousands of consumers in the United States—including those with rare diseases or allergies to commercially available drugs—rely on specially and individually made medicines known as compounded drugs. Compounding is critically important for patients but, if done improperly, this process can pose significant risks to patients and healthcare workers alike. Patients could—and have—received contaminated drugs or preparations that are subpotent, contaminated, or super-potent. Healthcare workers, in turn, can face risks of exposure to hazardous drugs.
The National Consumers League has long worked to inform consumers about the safe use of medication. Sadly, today many American communities are struggling with an epidemic: the misuse of prescription opioids, which seems to know no socioeconomic or demographic bounds. In 2016, more than 11 million people misused prescription opioids in the United States, and the latest data show that 115 Americans die each day from an opioid overdose.
The following Huffington Post op-ed was published August 18, co-authored by NCL's Sally Greenberg and Marilyn Tavenner, the President and CEO of America's Health Insurance Plans.
Navigating our health care system is no easy task. For decades, consumers have been forced to contend with a fragmented health system that makes decision making an all-consuming challenge. Whether it’s choosing a provider, knowing where to get information about cost or quality of doctors, or understanding a dictionary of complex health care terms, many consumers often feel left to fend for themselves in a system that is working against them.
“So Simple, So Hard” was the theme of the medication adherence conference the National Consumers League (NCL) held on September 15 in Sacramento, California. Sponsored by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), the speakers and attendees explored the challenges and barriers to medication adherence – why it is so hard – and highlighted the tools and strategies to make it simpler and to improve adherence and health outcomes, especially among underserved populations.
California’s Office of Health Information Integrity (CalOHII) just delivered a big victory for patients and consumers by expressly recognizing that sponsored medication adherence programs for a currently prescribed drug (commonly called “refill reminders”) do not require patient authorization in California. In publishing its long-awaited State Health Information Policy Manual, CalOHII takes a step to harmonize the state’s Confidentiality of Medical Information Act (CMIA) with the federal medical privacy laws and regulations (a.k.a., the HIPAA Privacy Rule).