Posts Tagged ‘Opioids’

Missouri: Time to monitor prescription drugs

March 12, 2017


One might guess that being the only state without something may not be a good distinction to have. In the case of the map to the left they would be correct. Missouri, highlighted here, is the only state to not have a prescription drug monitoring program or PDMP. PDMPs are tools used by doctors to look up what narcotic and potentially addictive drugs like opioid medications a patient receives in the hopes of stopping those that are abusing them or selling them. Deaths due to opioid and heroin have reached epidemic proportions; Missouri needs a PDMP.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that approximately 91 Americans die every day from an opioid overdose and since 1999 the amount of pain medication sold has quadrupled! On its website the CDC even recognizes how important PDMPs can be to reducing prescription drug deaths.

Countless other organizations such as mental health groups, drug policy think-tanks and physician groups, including the nation’s largest doctor group, the American Medical Association, have come out in support of states establishing these databases. One scientific study showed that using PDMP reduced the supply and abuse of opioid medications.

Why then does Missouri not have one? The answer lies with political action groups and conservative statesman that have blocked legislative efforts that create PDMPs. United for Missouri and Missouri Alliance for Freedom both believe that legislation like this erodes a citizen’s right to privacy and constitutes government over-regulation. Their biggest ally, State Senator Robert Schaaf, has gone so far as to filibuster bills that introduce them.

The truth is the people of Missouri must establish programs that have decreased opioid deaths. Senator Schaaf should stand down and the legislature should join the rest of the nation in establishing a prescription drug monitoring program




Opioid Overdose Deaths: Time for Federal Action

March 4, 2016

imagesPrescription opioid abuse and overdose has emerged as a serious public health problem in the United States in recent decades. Drug overdose rates have been steadily increasing and is now one of leading causes of accidental death nationwide. According the CDC 44 people are dying in the United States every day from drug overdose. Naloxone is a medication that can be easily administered intramuscularly or through a nasal spray, and can rapidly reverse the effects of opioid overdose, making it widely recognized as an important tool in saving lives.


There is widespread agreement that this is an urgent problem and many states have taken policy actions to combat the overdose problem, but there has not been a unified federal effort to date. Currently there is a bill in the house called the Stop Overdose Stat Act and a companion bill in the senate known at the Overdose Prevention Act that would support community training in naloxone administration and provide federal funding for the purchasing and distribution of naloxone.

images (1)Unfortunately, despite bipartisan support for this issue, these bills are being held up in the house’s Energy and Commerce Committee and the senate’s Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions.  You can help by contacting your representatives in the responsible house and senate committees to voice your support for moving these important bills forward.

New Washington law limits access to opioids

August 19, 2010

Washington lawmakers have taken new steps to limit access to prescription opioids, such as OxyContin.

Despite opposition, Washington state lawmakers have passed HB 2876, a bill which will restructure the way in which opioid pain medications are prescribed in the state.  Lawmakers cite increasing deaths due to prescription drug overdose as the catalyst for their action.  Washington State Department of Health reports that  from 2003 to 2008, the deaths from prescription medication overdose rose 90%, resulting in approximately 500 deaths in 2008 alone.  HB 2876 repeals the State’s current guidelines on pain management and replaces them will new rules for chronic pain management including dosing guidelines, indications for consultation with a pain specialist, and requirements for outcomes and opioid use tracking.  These new rules will apply only to chronic pain, and not pain resulting from acute injury or malignancy.   The Agency Medical Directors’ Group, the Department of Health, the University of Washington,  and the Washington State Medical Association will collaborate to develop the guidelines.   Several  public hearings will be held over the summer and early fall to discuss the elements of the proposed guidelines.

The bill passed despite intense opposition from local and national groups, including the Washington State Medical Association, American Society for Pain Management Nursing, American Academy of Pain Management, and American Pain Foundation.

The new law may limit access to medications necessary for adequate pain control.

Each has expressed concern about the potential for guidelines to result in decreased access to adequate pain control.  The groups are asking their membership to attend the hearings and advocate for guidelines that will minimize care access restrictions.   They cite the relative paucity of pain specialists, particularly in small and/or remote communities.  Like these groups, we urge clinicians and patients, particularly those in rural communities, to attend these meetings to ensure patients with chronic pain continue to have access to pain care.

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