Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs Linked to 30% Drop in Opioid Prescribing

States that use prescription drug monitoring programs have seen a 30 percent decrease in the rate of prescriptions written for opioid painkillers, a new study finds.

“This reduction was seen immediately following the launch of the program and was maintained in the second and third years afterward,” the researchers wrote in the journalHealth Affairs.

NBC News reports the researchers from Weill Cornell Medical College in New York are not certain why the programs reduce opioid prescriptions. “It is possible that the implementation of a prescription drug monitoring program by itself substantially raised awareness among prescribers about controlled substance misuse and abuse and made them more cautious when prescribing pain medications with a great potential for abuse and dependency,” they wrote.

Full story on prescription drug monitoring programs at drugfree.org

Medical, Addiction Groups Partner to Advocate for Laws to Address Opioid Epidemic

Medical and addiction groups have formed a coalition to advocate for legislation and policies to address the nation’s opioid epidemic, MedPageToday reports.

The Coalition to Stop Opioid Overdose (CSOO) includes many national medical groups such as the American Society of Addiction Medicine, the American Association of Nurse Practitioners, the American College of Emergency Physicians and the American Congress of Obstetrics and Gynecology. It also includes recovery groups including Facing Addiction, the Association of Recovery Schools and Young People in Recovery.

The coalition’s mission is “to address the U.S. opioid epidemic by engaging policy makers, public health leaders, chronic pain and addiction specialists, individuals in and seeking recovery and family members, so that legislation and policies get the support needed to pass Congress this year and become law.”

Full story of the CSOO to stop the opioid epidemic at drugfree.org

FDA Advisory Panel Calls for Requiring Training for Doctors Who Prescribe Opioids

A Food and Drug Administration (FDA) advisory panel on Wednesday voted to recommend requiring doctors who prescribe opioids to receive training. Doctors’ groups have resisted mandatory training.

The FDA often follows their advisory panels’ recommendations, but the agency is not required to do so.

The Wall Street Journal reports the panel heard evidence on ways to improve opioid safety. The panel unanimously voted to recommend overhauling current federal regulations to train physicians and patients about the risks of overusing opioid painkillers.

“We need to teach people to use these drugs sparingly,” said committee member Jeanmarie Perrone, a professor of emergency medicine and toxicologist at the University of Pennsylvania.

Full story of required training for Doctors who prescribe opioids at drugfree.org

Clinton Supports Tax on Prescription Opioids to Raise Funds for Addiction Treatment

Hillary Clinton this week said she supports a plan by Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia to levy a tax on prescription opioids. Manchin says the tax would raise up to $2 billion annually, which would be used to expand access to opioid addiction treatment.

West Virginia has the highest rate of drug overdose deaths in the nation, CNN reports.

According to Manchin’s website, of the 628 drug overdose deaths in the state in 2014, most were linked to prescription drugs; 199 were oxycodone-related, while 133 were attributed to hydrocodone.

Earlier this year, Manchin proposed a tax of one cent for each milligram of active opioid ingredient in a prescription pain pill to be paid by the manufacturer or importer. The tax funds would be distributed to states as part of a drug prevention block grant program.

Full story of Clinton’s tax support on prescription and addiction treatment at drugfree.org

Some Advocacy Groups Say House Opioid Abuse Bill Doesn’t Focus Enough on Recovery

Some addiction recovery groups say a U.S. House bill, the Comprehensive Opioid Abuse Reduction Act, does not focus enough on recovery, The Huffington Post reports. The groups say the House measure, to be introduced Wednesday, is weaker than the Senate version of the bill.

In March, the U.S. Senate voted 94-1 to pass the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA). The measure authorizes funds for various drug treatment and prevention programs for a wide range of people, including those in jail.

CARA expands prescription drug take-back programs and establishes monitoring to prevent over-prescribing of opioid painkillers. It expands the availability of medication-assisted treatment, including in criminal justice settings, and supports treatment as an alternative to incarceration. The measure also calls for training and equipping first responders on the use of naloxone.

Full story on the Comprehensive Opioid Abuse Reduction Act at drugfree.org