Given the growing toll related to the abuse of prescription opioids and heroin, we must collectively redouble our efforts to prevent the misuse, abuse and diversion of prescription medicines. We need a balanced approach that ensures appropriate access and use of prescription medicines by patients for legitimate medical needs under the direction and care of a licensed health care professional, but that also reduces the potential for misuse, abuse and diversion. While 94 percent of the prescription medicines most susceptible to abuse are generic,* the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) and its members are committed to supporting the appropriate use of prescription medicines and working with others to collectively address this complex public health challenge.
PhRMA strongly supports the following legislative reforms to combat prescription drug abuse.
Improve the Use and Effectiveness of Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs
Consistent use of prescription drug monitoring programs (PDMPs) is one of the most promising tools in preventing and detecting potential doctor shoppers while allowing for legitimate medical use of needed medicines. These state-run databases collect, analyze and share dispensing information on controlled substances, providing critical information to providers to inform their prescribing.
We support public policies to:
PhRMA strongly supports efforts to improve the use and effectiveness of PDMPs, including, but not limited to, expanding interoperability and standardization of key program elements to promote uniformity of data elements, improving accessibility and use and promoting real time data entry and access. Regular assessments of these tools are also needed to ensure they are meeting stated policy goals and not negatively impacting access to needed medicines among those with a legitimate medical need. View more.
Improve Education and Training Related to Prescription Drug Abuse, Pain Management and Treatment Options
As physicians and other prescribers are often on the frontlines of the fight against prescription drug abuse, they need ongoing training to ensure they meet the legitimate medical needs of patients while reducing the potential for abuse. Expanded educational efforts are also needed to ensure that the public, patients, caregivers and others understand the dangers of prescription drug abuse and their role in reducing the potential for abuse. Public policies should:
Increase Coverage and Access to Range of Treatment Options
Prescription drug abuse is a complex problem with no single solution. Similarly, there is no one form of treatment that is most effective. We support a comprehensive approach to treating those with opioid use disorders and addiction to other controlled substances, with the first step being the need to assure sufficient treatment capacity. Public policies should:
Encourage the Development and Use of Abuse Deterrent Formulations (ADF), Non-Opioid Pain Medications and Medications to Treat Addiction and Prevent Overdose
ADF medications make certain types of abuse, such as crushing a tablet to snort the contents or dissolving a capsule in order to inject its contents, more difficult or less rewarding. ADF products are an important treatment option that can help prevent widespread abuse by impeding delivery of the active ingredient. Similarly, non-opioid pain medications are an important treatment option for patients, as are medications to treat addiction and overdose. Recognizing the public health benefits of these treatment options, policies need to foster their development and use. We support:
Strengthen Efforts to Combat Prescription Drug Diversion and Abuse
The impact of drug diversion goes beyond just the cost of the prescription drugs that have been diverted for illicit purposes. Prescription drug diversion not only results in increased costs to the health care system through doctor shopping and other forms of fraud, but it also results in an increased burden on first responders and law enforcement who face the human toll of addiction and overdose and its devastating consequences on patients and their families. We support policies to:
PhRMA and its members are committed to continuing to work with stakeholders in both the private and public sectors to address this complex and challenging public health issue.
View policy documents directly:
*Among the most abused prescription medicines (opioids, CNS drugs, and stimulants) an estimated 93.7% of prescriptions at the retail level were for generic medicines in calendar year 2015. PhRMA analysis of IMS National Prescription Audit, April 29, 2016.