With prescription painkiller abuse, including abuse of OxyContin, Percocet and Vicodin, becoming a full-blown epidemic, U.S. health officials are looking at various ways to solve the problem before it gets even worse. One possible solution that is under consideration is a requirement that doctors use a pill-tracking database prior to prescribing opioids to patients.
The Prescription Drug Problem in America
Across the country, prescription drug abuse and addiction are serious problems. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), prescription opioid misuse and abuse resulted in 29,000 deaths in 2014. This represented an all-time high for fatal prescription drug overdoses in the United States.
Making matters worse is the fact that many people who are legally prescribed painkillers eventually turn to heroin as their drug of choice because heroin is a cheaper alternative to many prescription drugs. This, in turn, results in a significant number of heroin OD deaths each year.
Monitoring Doctor Prescriptions as a Solution to Painkiller Abuse
The federal government is now taking steps to ensure that state lawmakers at least consider requiring doctors to use the systems that are already in place to combat prescription drug abuse. To that end, the White House recently sent letters to governors in all 50 states, asking the state leaders to push for changes at the local level. One suggested change is that pharmacists would now be required to submit data about painkiller prescriptions every day, not just once a week.
Additionally, the government is calling for the inclusion of doctors among the individuals who would be required to use the painkiller databases that collect data on high-risk drugs, such as prescription opioids, prescribed by doctors. The hope is that health experts and government officials will then be able to analyze the data and identify “suspicious” patterns or dangerous trends.
For additional information, view the ABCNews.com article, “Federal Officials, Advocates Push Pill-Tracking Databases.”
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