Sunday, March 9, 2014

Lieberman Applauds Rep. Murphy for Stand on Psychotropic Drugs in Part D

APA has submitted a letter to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) urging the agency to not move forward with its proposed Medicare rule to remove antidepressants and antipsychotics from protected coverage status. Such status allows Medicare Part D beneficiaries to have access to "all or substantially all" medications in those therapeutic classes.  APA President Jeffrey Lieberman, M.D., was pleased to see that APA’s concerns were discussed at length during a recent House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health convened to discuss the proposed rule.

At that hearing, Rep. Tim Murphy (R-Pa.), a clinical psychologist, read parts of APA's letter to the committee, highlighting in particular CMS’s mischaracterization of APA’s practice guidelines to justify curtailing access to psychotropic medications. During questioning, Murphy queried CMS Principal Deputy Administrator Jon Blum as to whether any psychiatric expert consultation had been consulted in CMS’s clinical review, among other important topics.

Medicare Part D currently has six “protected” classes: antipsychotic agents, antidepressants, anticonvulsants, immunosuppressants, antiretrovirals, and antineoplastics. Part D plans must carry “all or substantially all” of the chemically distinct drugs in these categories on their formularies. For other categories, the plans can typically carry one brand-name drug and one generic drug.

“It is fundamental to the mission of APA to promote scientific inquiry and evidence-based approaches to the treatment of mental illnesses and to ensure that policy is based upon the scientific evidence available,” said Lieberman. “APA has always stated, and its practice guidelines clearly stress, that all antidepressants and antipsychotics are absolutely not comparable nor are they in any way interchangeable. We need to ensure that our patients have access to full range of psychotropic drugs now available to maximize the effectiveness of their treatment and to reduce suffering.”

APA's Board of Trustees is meeting this weekend to discuss this and other issues.

More information is on APA's website.


The content of Psychiatric News does not necessarily reflect the views of APA or the editors. Unless so stated, neither Psychiatric News nor APA guarantees, warrants, or endorses information or advertising in this newspaper. Clinical opinions are not peer reviewed and thus should be independently verified.