Changes to Rx Dispensing, Monitoring Needed to Curb Opioid Epidemic

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A new report is calling on major health changes in order to get control of the prescription opioid abuse epidemic.

Led by researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, the report, titled “The Prescription Opioid Epidemic: An Evidence-Based Approach,” calls for changes in how medical students and physicians are trained, as well as how prescriptions are dispensed and monitored. In addition, first responders should be better trained in how to treat overdoses, and new ways of identifying and treating those with addiction should be developed.

Since 1999, sales of prescription opioids have surged more than 300%. And two million Americans misused opioids meds in 2013, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That year, more than 16,000 people died from prescription opioid overdoses.

Specifics in the report include stricter oversight of clinical prescribing and more comprehensive training of medical students, who currently receive very little instruction on the subject. In addition, pharmacies and pharmacy benefit managers should have an expanded role as they are intermediaries between prescribers and patients. Greater use of electronic prescribing will also identify high-risk patients and practitioners.

In addition, the authors call for mandatory use of Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs, state databases that track controlled substance prescriptions from pharmacies.

Changes to Rx Dispensing, Monitoring Needed to Curb Opioid Epidemic
Experts also call for developing new ways of identifying and treating those with addiction.

A group of experts, led by researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, are recommending several health care changes aimed at curbing the prescription opioid epidemic, a crisis that is killing an average of 44 people a day in the U.S.

The new recommendations were developed by professionals from medicine, pharmacy, injury prevention, and law with input from patient representatives, insurers, and drug manufacturers.

The report, calls for the following changes:

  • how medical students and physicians are trained;
  • how prescriptions are dispensed and monitored;
  • how first responders are equipped to treat overdoses;
  • and how those with addiction are identified and treated.
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