Magazine article Drug Topics

Most Trusted?

Magazine article Drug Topics

Most Trusted?

Article excerpt

Pharmacists who think they need a diagnosis to more effectively counsel patients will butt heads with the sort of attitude displayed by some Massachusetts physicians who obviously don't trust America's most-trusted.

Some Massachusetts physicians mostly psychiatrists, are grousing about a state Medicaid directive that they must give pharmacists a patient's diagnosis before refills can be dispensed for benzodiazepines. The doctors view the mandate as an illegal breach of patient confidentiality because they don't believe pharmacists can be trusted to keep the diagnoses under wraps.

Opponents charge that if the refill doesn't pass muster with Medicaid's pharmacy benefit manager on a prior-authorization basis, the drug will not be paid for by Medicaid and that some of the 121,000 beneficiaries involved might have to go without the drugs. The policy applies to prescriptions renewed after 120 days of therapy.

Patients with a medical necessity for long-term benzodiazepine therapy will not be denied refills, countered David Ball, director of external affairs, division of medical assistance. "We're not going to discontinue use of the drugs for anyone if they are being used appropriately," he added.

Physicians and pharmacists operate under the same ethical and legal obligations when it comes to patient confidentiality, said Linda Berry, executive director, Massachusetts Pharmacists Association. She believes that only a small group of physicians are agitating in the media against the Medicaid mandate because it takes time away from their practices. …

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