An article in The Washington Post this week points to the continuing—and alarming—rise in deaths from heroin and abuse of prescription opioids and notes that a wide range of strategic efforts have still not stemmed the tide of drugs affecting a large portion of the United States.
Forty-nine percent of respondents think more focus should be on ensuring that the patients who legitimately need prescription pain medications are still able to easily get them when they need them…
It’s no secret that prescription drug abuse is a complex issue, but often the media do not present all the components of this tragic epidemic. The focus remains on the effects of the misused prescription drugs—which is a real and unavoidable part of the story—but another part is on ensuring patients who legitimately need those medications have access to them.
According to NACDS opinion research conducted this summer, likely voters understand the complexity of the issues, with nearly 8-in-10 respondents agreeing with the statement: “Pharmacies have a dual role when it comes to battling prescription drug abuse: They have to be part of the solution by working with law enforcement officials to stop prescription drug abuse, but they also have to maintain their responsibilities to patients by making sure they receive the medications they legitimately need.”
In addition, when considering whether new approaches are needed on these issues, 32 percent of the respondents believe there should be more emphasis on cracking down on the abuse of prescription pain medication by establishing stricter guidelines and rules for how those medications can be dispensed. Forty-nine percent of respondents think more focus should be on ensuring that the patients who legitimately need prescription pain medications are still able to easily get them when they need them, and 19 percent feel the nation has reached a reasonable balance when it comes to this issue.
NACDS is making it a top priority to advocate—in collaboration with patient groups—before the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) about necessary approaches to address drug abuse prevention and access at the same time. In addition, NACDS continues to advocate for legislation (S. 483 and H.R. 471) that would direct the Department of Health and Human Services to work jointly with the Office of National Drug Control Policy and DEA to assess obstacles to legitimate patient access to controlled substances, and to identify how collaboration among agencies and stakeholders can benefit patients and prevent diversion and abuse of prescription drugs.