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  • Ophthalmic Drug Waste Is Target of New Academy-Driven AMA Policy

    The American Medical Association’s (AMA) legislative and policy-making body, the House of Delegates, last week enacted a new policy (PDF) that aims to help slash drug costs for ophthalmology patients and reduce drug waste. Also last week, Ravi Goel, MD, announced his candidacy to serve on the AMA Council on Medical Service to ensure that ophthalmology will continue to have representation at the table.

    The AMA’s new medical waste policy, passed by the House of Delegates on Nov. 17, calls on the association to work with national specialty societies, state medical societies and other interested parties to advocate for legislative and regulatory language that would allow for the practice of offering patients any partially used, stock-item medication upon discharge when required for continuing treatment.   

    Typically, facility-provided medications are charged to the patient. However, the unused medication often gets discarded when a patient is discharged. That happens even if the medication is recommended for post-discharge care. Patients are then essentially made to purchase duplicate medications for their post-discharge use.

    Issues of cost inefficiencies and medical waste also arise with the use of medications that facilities only allow for single-patient use but could use for multiple patients in accordance with safe handling and dispensing protocols. The new medical waste policy calls on the AMA to work with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and other interested parties to advocate for legislative and regulatory language that permits the practice of using multidose medications, such as eye drops, injectables and topical medications, for multiple patients.

    The Academy has increased its focus on reducing medical drug waste in ophthalmology. Co-sponsored by the Academy, the new policy was widely recognized by the AMA House of Delegates as a commonsense step to lower the cost of care, reduce medical waste and improve patient outcomes.

    The AMA’s resolution builds upon a new Illinois law enacted in July. That new law provides that any unused topical antibiotic, anti-inflammatory, dilation or glaucoma drop or ointment must be offered to the patient upon discharge if the medication is administered at a hospital, emergency room or ambulatory surgical center when required for continuing treatment. The Academy has developed model legislation based on this bill that other states can consider.

    The Ophthalmic Instrument Cleaning and Sterilization Task Force — chaired by David F. Chang, MD, and Cathleen M. McCabe, MD, and comprised of representatives from the Academy and several ophthalmology organizations — also is in the process of developing multipronged pragmatic strategies to decrease surgical waste in ophthalmology.

    Academy’s Delegation Chair Retires from the AMA House of Delegates

    Kevin Flaherty, MD, the chair of the Academy’s delegation and the Ophthalmology Section Council in the AMA House of Delegates, is relinquishing his stewardship of ophthalmology’s representation in the house. Dr. Flaherty has ably led the delegation since 2011.  

    Ravi Goel, MD, the chair-elect of the Academy’s delegation to the House of Delegates and a member of the Academy’s Board of Trustees, has announced his candidacy for a seat on the AMA Council on Medical Service in June 2022.

    The influential Council on Medical Service studies and evaluates the social and economic aspects of medical care and recommends policies to the AMA House of Delegates on issues related to the socioeconomic factors that influence the practice of medicine.