MSP Compliance Blog


Expert summary, analysis and recommendations on issues impacting Medicare Secondary Payer compliance.

The VA’s Proactive Move on Opioids

Posted on October 3, 2014 by Tower MSA

I don’t need to reiterate how big a problem prescription drugs continue to be not only in the work comp industry as well as society, but I just did anyway. Recently I wrote here about the rescheduling of hydrocodone combination products and how it was a long overdue move for the DEA to make. As a reminder, the reclassification goes into effect on October 6, and this was no doubt the reason that the Veterans Health Administration sent a letter to my dad yesterday.

As well deserved as the scrutiny against the V.A. has been in recent months, the letter that they sent my father was an absolutely needed step and one that hopefully represents the direction in which the disgraced organization is heading.

It was a simple letter and you can see it by clicking on the link below, but the VA decided to take decisive action and inform what appears to be all patients who have been prescribed hydrocodone combination products in the past about the DEA’s decision to reclassify. Furthermore, they took the time to explain to our veterans the changes to the typical process that they will experience.

There are two aspects of the letter that really stick out. First, it explains the reasoning behind the DEA’s decision in a simple, yet alarming way – one I which my dad really took notice to. The letter states:

The DEA did this because these medications were found to be highly abused, habit forming, and potentially deadly in overdoses and need stricter regulations to improve their safe use.

Simple yet effective. It reads a lot like a surgeon general warning on a pack of cigarettes. The second impressive aspect of the letter is the fact that my dad hasn’t had a prescription for any drug that fits this category since his neck surgery 4 years ago. And so who knows how far back the VA went in considering which vets to send this letter to, and perhaps it was everyone who has ever received a hydrocodone combination product. Whatever they did, from my perspective it was above and beyond and so kudos to the Department of Veteran Affairs for stepping up and being proactive.

VA Letter on HC Products