Effective guidelines and tools important to keeping check on prescription opioids

Effective guidelines and tools important to keeping check on prescription opioids

We’ve been a little cavalier about the safety of opioids for a long time nationwide” – Dr. Gregory Love, Pain Management Doctor, SSM Health Dean Medical Group

The above-mentioned words of Dr. Love refer to the prescription drug overdose epidemic that is plaguing the United States. Prescription opioids continue to fuel the epidemic with nearly half of all the U.S. opioid overdose deaths involving a prescription opioid, as highlighted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In 2015, more than 15,000 people have died due to a prescription opioid overdose.

According to the World Drug Report 2015, North America, by contributing 23 percent to the global number of deaths due to drugs, experiences the highest drug-related mortality rate and the U.S. tops this list by accounting for one in five drug-related deaths globally. In the face of such a huge problem, it is important for health professionals to follow prescription guidelines and do some background checks on the patient before writing another prescription.

Prescription drug monitoring programs decelerating rate of prescription drug abuse

Identifying people with the problem of addiction is not as simple as it appears, as most of the time they may lie about their inclination toward drugs. Most people are not only keeping their addiction habits hidden from their family but they are also in fact, capable of easily concealing their addiction from their physician.

This is when the Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs (PDMPs), state-run electronic databases used for tracking the prescription and dispensation of prescription opioids to patients, becomes useful. As PDMP as a tool helps health professionals in identifying opioid abuse in patients coming for treatment, it enables them to make informed decisions about prescribing such drugs to them.

PDMPs have been in paper form since the 1930s and at present, other than Missouri, every state has some type of system in place. However, the rules and guidelines for using this system regarding who has access, how soon pharmacies are to enter dispensing data, which medications are to be reported, etc., vary widely from state to state.

Most of the states require prescribers of controlled medication to obtain access to PDMPs, but only on a voluntary basis. In 2012, only 35 percent of doctors had signed up for the program, which increased to 53 percent in 2014. The prescribers on their own discretion can use such PDMPs. Despite being voluntary, PDMP has led to a decline in the number of opioids dispensed, according to the Wisconsin Controlled Substance Board report.

State regulations to fight prescription drug overdose epidemic

In 2012, Kentucky became the first state to enforce the use of PDMP data for looking up drug use history of patients before they are prescribed opioid painkillers and other potentially harmful and addictive drugs. Similar laws have been enacted in 16 other states. Some of the states, including Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts and New York, recently started prohibiting doctors from prescribing opioids for more than seven days to many patients. Maryland also followed suit with a law being enacted pertaining to the mandatory use of PDMP and a similar bill was passed in California a few months later in 2016.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also stepped in and took the unprecedented step of issuing the guidelines for prescribing opioids for chronic pain to curb the liberal opioid prescribing trend among doctors. These guidelines intend to overcome the risks of prescription opioids. It advocates that clinicians should review PDMP data and carry out urine drug testing before starting opioid therapy.

Pave way for recovery

With the new regulations and guidelines in place, the medical fraternity needs to keep a check on the prescription opioids being dispensed. Fortunately, health care professionals are taking a welcome step to prescribe lesser number of painkillers and recommend alternative treatments, such as exercise, yoga, etc.

If you or someone you know is struggling with prescription drug abuse, contact the Florida Prescription Addiction Helpline. Call us at our 24/7 helpline number 866-292-3211 to know about the prescription drug rehab centers in Florida or chat online with our representatives to know more about the prescription drug rehabilitation facilities in Florida.

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