Policies to combat prescription drug abuse and misuse

Each day, almost 7,000 people are treated in emergency departments for using prescription opioid drugs in a manner other than prescribed.

Priscilla VanderVeerDecember 15, 2015

Policies to combat prescription drug abuse and misuse.

There has been a lot of discussion recently about prescription drug abuse, and rightfully so. Each day, almost 7,000 people are treated in emergency departments for using prescription opioid drugs in a manner other than prescribed.

Prescription medicines can and do improve and save lives when they are used appropriately. But when they are diverted, abused or misused, devastating consequences can result. There is perhaps no other health care challenge as complex and multifaceted and we all must work together to address this issue.

DrugAbuse.gov infographic

Infographic source: DrugAbuse.gov Link to page

As part of these efforts, the PhRMA and the innovative biopharmaceutical industry advocate for policies that will help combat prescription drug abuse and misuse, while also ensuring access to these medicines for patients with legitimate medical needs:

  • Law enforcement: According to the Drug Enforcement Administration, the majority of prescription medicine abuse stems from doctor shopping, forged prescriptions, theft, fraud and, increasingly, the Internet. We support expanded efforts to address these sources.
  • Prescription drug monitoring programs: Across the U.S., biopharmaceutical companies support efforts to improve the effectiveness and interoperability of prescription drug monitoring programs, also known as PDMPs, so that these state-run electronic databases can help ensure appropriate prescribing and identify and prevent potential cases of doctor shopping – the process by which individuals visit numerous doctors in an attempt to obtain multiple prescriptions.
  • Appropriate use: Ensuring appropriate use of prescription medicines is a shared responsibility of manufacturers and health care providers to minimize abuse rates, while also ensuring that patients with legitimate medical needs have access to their medicines. We support efforts to ensure appropriate provider training related to appropriate prescribing of controlled substances and efforts to increase awareness among patients and the public about the appropriate use, storage and disposal of prescription medicines.
  • Shutting down “pill mills”: We support expanding efforts to identify and close down “pill mills” (i.e., facilities that inappropriately provide access to controlled substances), while protecting the activities of legitimate pain clinics. “Pill mills,” unlike legitimate plain clinics, generally prescribe controlled substances inappropriately for non-medical reasons on a cash basis.
  • Abuse-deterrent technology: Finally, America’s biopharmaceutical companies continue to explore new technologies to reduce the ability to tamper with and abuse medicines and will continue to work with the FDA and others to advance the development and assessment of abuse‐deterrent technologies.

Ending the abuse and misuse of medicines is important to all of us, and we will continue to advocate for policies that will address this threat to public health. Learn more about how PhRMA and its member companies are working to prevent the misuse and abuse of prescription medicines.

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