Worried About Prescription Drugs? Do This to Reduce the Risk
Prescription drugs are responsible for more deaths than heroin and cocaine combined. These drugs are being abused by kids, parents, and even grandparents. Want to do to reduce the risk of a drug death in your family? Here is one of the greatest successes.
Prescription drug monitoring programs
A prescription drug monitoring program (PDMP) consists of a database that records prescriptions written and filled. This isn’t for all drugs, just those that have high or moderate potential for addiction. These are the kind of drugs that are most abused, and are involved in the most deaths.
The content for the database is provided by pharmacists and includes basic information on the patient, the prescribing doctor, the drug, and the dosage.
The information is then available to be used by pharmacists whenever they fill a prescription for that type of drug, and by doctors, hospitals and other medical facilities prior to prescribing them.
What are the benefits of PDMPs?
PDMPs reduce abuse, intended and unintended, significantly. For example:
- An older person may be taking too many of the pills and not even be aware of it. They’ve been told to take 3 a day, but don’t remember that or can’t remember every day how many they’ve taken so far.
- No matter who’s taking the drugs, they might think it’s okay to take more than prescribed when they feel they need them. If they’re in pain, for example, they might take an extra pill or two to get better relief, unaware that doing that can be dangerous. The fact that the pills come from a doctor – who is not expected to harm you – make it seem safe.
- Someone who is addicted to the pills but can no longer get them from their own doctor may go to other doctors, tell them about their pain, and get the new doctors to agree to give them a prescription.
- A person who is basically a drug dealer can go to doctors and hospitals, faking pain, and get prescriptions. Some people who do this can go to several doctors or hospital emergency departments in one day. They may use some of the drugs themselves, but they’ll also sell them to others. And at a hefty profit!
- A doctor could be writing too many prescriptions for these types of drugs for one patient, or in general in his practice. He may be doing it knowingly – often because he’s getting under-the-table money, little more than drug dealers themselves – or he doesn’t have the information he needs to see the big picture. Many doctors have had their license suspended or revoked for over-prescribing prescription drugs. Some even operate what’s known as a ‘pill mill’ – an office or clinic a person can go to and ALWAYS be able to get the drugs they request.
Consulting a PDMP database before writing or filling a prescription can find any of these problems. Doctors and pharmacists can tell who’s getting an unreal or dangerous quantity of the drugs and help them get the drug rehab or other addiction help they need. And the doctors are who over-prescribing can be located, investigated, warned, corrected or, if warranted, prosecuted.
Even though some people have objected to PDMPs as an invasion of privacy, 49 states now have a PDMP in place. The only one that doesn’t is Missouri. And the person leading the campaign to stop the establishment of a PDMP in Missouri is Senator Rob Schaaf, who is also a doctor.
A few days ago Schaaf tweeted “Ask yourself: Do you want the government to know what meds you take? Do you want 26,000 MO people to have access? That’s what a PDMP is!”
A couple of days later he wrote “The outrage isn’t that MO doesn’t have a drug database but that it is the only one that has refused to set up a domestic spying system.”
Yes, it’s a violation of privacy, but Missouri also has the 7th highest number of prescription drug deaths in the entire country! That’s a LOT of people losing family members to drugs. What about them?
From Schaaf’s viewpoint, they don’t really matter. He was quoted in a recent article as saying “If they overdose and kill themselves, it just removes them from the gene pool.”
And what about the clean up that’s possible by getting rid of dealers and criminal doctors?
Another Schaaf tweet, a week ago: “It always seems so effortless how liberals are willing to legislate away other people’s liberty and spend other people’s money.”
If he’s so concerned about frivolously spending other people’s money, you’d think he’d also look at the money being spent on prescription drug abuse. According to Trust for America’s Health (TFAH), “misuse and abuse of prescription painkillers alone costs the country an estimated $53.4 billion a year in lost productivity, medical costs and criminal justice costs.” With Missouri ranking at # 7 for prescription drug deaths, you can bet the State eats up a healthy portion of those funds.
But never mind the money – these PDMP programs are helping to prevent addiction, ruined lives, and death.
- In Ohio, for example, a whopping 41 percent of medical providers who consulted a PDMP before prescribing for their patients changed their prescriptions because the patients were receiving multiple simultaneous narcotic prescriptions.
- In Oklahoma, 63 percent of the prescribers said the PDMP was helping them identify people with a drug problem.
- Doctors in Rhode Island and Connecticut who consulted the PDMP were more likely to get the patient to get help.
- In British Columbia, Canada, medically unwarranted prescriptions for painkillers dropped by 33 percent after their PDMP was established. Scripts for benzodiazepines (e.g. sedatives, anti-anxiety drugs, sleeping pills) went down by 49 percent.
The successes go on and on. See more at the PDMP Center of Excellence at Brandeis University.
Other than Missouri not having a PDMP at all, the other problem with PDMPs is that they are only enforceable in 16 States. Even though the docs and pharmacists have the databases available, they are not legally bound to use it.
If you want to reduce the risk of your family members and friends getting into trouble with prescription drugs, find out what the situation is with the PDMP in your state and if it’s not legally enforceable, get behind or initiate whatever action you can to get it enforced.
And if you need help with someone who is already hooked on prescription drugs, give us a call at 855-889-0555. We can help.
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