Drug Monitoring Program Reduces Opioid Prescriptions

Drug Monitoring Program Reduces Opioid Prescriptions
A new study finds requiring doctors to register with their state prescription drug monitoring program reduces the amount of opioid painkillers Medicaid patients receive. The program uses a database to track patients’ opioid prescriptions. The study also found requiring doctors to register with the program saved money, Philly.com reports. Requiring doctors to register with their state program led to an almost 10 percent drop in prescriptions for the most potent opioids between 2011 and 2014, researcher report in Health Affairs. The study found mandatory checking of the database was no more effective than requiring providers to register. The prescription drug monitoring programs are designed to reduce the number of patients who “doctor-shop,” or get prescriptions from multiple doctors.
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NJ to Require Physicians to Discuss Addictive Qualities of Opiates Prior to Prescribing

NJ to Require Physicians to Discuss Addictive Qualities of Opiates Prior to Prescribing
According to the The Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey, Garden State residents will now be informed of the addictive qualities of the medicines their children are prescribed thanks to a new law, the first of its kind in the nation, which passed recently in the State. The new law (A3424/S2156) signed by Governor Chris Christie requires prescribers, both physicians and dentists, to speak to the parents of their patients under the age of 18 before prescribing an opioid, according to Angelo M. Valente, Executive Director of The Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey (PDFNJ). The law also requires prescribers to discuss non-opiate alternatives and make note of the conversation. “The passage of today’s law will guarantee that families are equipped with the knowledge they need to prevent opiate abuse in their children. This groundbreaking law will serve as a model for the rest of the nation in their efforts...
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More Than Half of U.S. Doctors Reducing Opioid Prescriptions

More Than Half of U.S. Doctors Reducing Opioid Prescriptions
A new survey finds more than half of U.S. doctors are reducing the number of opioid prescriptions they write. Almost 10 percent have stopped prescribing opioids altogether, The Boston Globe reports. More than one-third of doctors surveyed said reducing opioid prescribing has hurt patients with chronic pain. The survey was conducted for the newspaper by the SERMO physicians social network, an online community that allows doctors to anonymously share ideas and concerns. Doctors said the two main reasons they have cut back were the risks and hassles involved in prescribing opioids, and a better understanding of the painkillers’ risks.
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Public Health Officials Urge Doctors to Consider Medications to Treat Alcohol Addiction

Public Health Officials Urge Doctors to Consider Medications to Treat Alcohol Addiction
Public health officials are urging doctors to consider prescribing medications to treat alcohol addiction, NPR reports. The drugs can be used alongside or in place of peer-support programs. “We want people to understand we think AA is wonderful, but there are other options,” said George Koob, Director of the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. He says there are two drugs on the market for patients with alcohol cravings, naltrexone and acamprosate. “They’re very safe medications, and they’ve shown efficacy,” he said. A third drug, disulfiram (Antabuse), makes people violently ill when they drink alcohol, but it does not work against alcohol cravings.
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Senate Bill Would Require Doctors to Use Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs

Senate Bill Would Require Doctors to Use Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs
Three U.S. senators have introduced a bill that would require doctors to use prescription drug monitoring programs before they prescribe painkillers. The Prescription Drug Monitoring Act is co-sponsored by Senators Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota and Angus King of Maine. Minnesota is one of the states in which doctors’ participation in prescription drug monitoring is voluntary. At a news conference Tuesday, Klobuchar said if such programs are not mandatory, some doctors who excessively prescribe opioids can go undetected, the Star Tribune reported. “You can say you have (a monitoring system), but if you’re not putting in the prescriptions, what good is it?” she asked.
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Senators: Allow Doctors to Treat 500 Patients at a Time With Buprenorphine

Senators: Allow Doctors to Treat 500 Patients at a Time With Buprenorphine
A group of senators is urging the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to raise the number of patients a doctor can treat with the opioid addiction medication buprenorphine to 500, The Huffington Post reports. Currently, federal regulations limit the number of patients a doctor can treat with buprenorphine to 30 in the first year they are certified to prescribe the drug, and 100 in subsequent years. Earlier this year, HHS proposed changing the rules to allow certified doctors to treat as many as 200 patients at a time in their third year of prescribing, the article notes. Recently, a group of 22 senators sent a letter to HHS Secretary Sylvia Burwell, saying they believe the new regulation does not go far enough. “The current 100 patient cap is one of several factors that have created a huge disparity between those who can prescribe opioids for treatment of pain...
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Advisory Panel Calls for Requiring Training for Doctors Who Prescribe Opioids

Advisory Panel Calls for Requiring Training for Doctors Who Prescribe Opioids
A Food and Drug Administration (FDA) advisory panel recently 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. The panel heard extensive public testimony from people who urged making opioid training mandatory for doctors, and cautioned the training should not be controlled by the pharmaceutical industry. Emergency medicine physician Dr. Chris Johnson of Minneapolis told the panel, “Every brain is at...
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FDA Panel Will Consider Requiring Doctors to Undergo Opioid Prescribing Training

FDA Panel Will Consider Requiring Doctors to Undergo Opioid Prescribing Training
A panel of experts convened by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is meeting this week to consider whether to require doctors to undergo training to prescribe opioid painkillers. Doctors’ groups have resisted mandatory training, The New York Times reports. In 2012, the FDA rejected a recommendation from an expert panel that called for mandatory physician training for opioid prescribing. The panel said such training might help reduce overdose deaths from opioid painkillers. A spokeswoman for the FDA told the newspaper the agency now supports mandatory training. The panel is expected to make a recommendation on Wednesday. Since 2012, the FDA has required companies that make long-acting opioids, such as OxyContin, methadone and fentanyl, to underwrite voluntary medical education courses on prescribing the drugs. Recently, many of those companies said they support requiring physicians to have specific training or expertise in pain management before they can obtain a license from...
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CDC Releases Guidelines for Doctors Designed to Reduce Opioid Prescribing

CDC Releases Guidelines for Doctors Designed to Reduce Opioid Prescribing
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued guidelines Tuesday that recommend primary care providers avoid prescribing opioid painkillers for patients with chronic pain, according to USA Today . The risks from opioids greatly outweigh the benefits for most people, the CDC says. Primary care providers write nearly half of all opioid prescriptions, according to the CDC. The new guidelines are designed for primary care doctors who treat adult patients for chronic pain in outpatient settings. They are not meant for guiding treatment of patients in active cancer treatment, palliative care, or end-of-life care, the agency said. Doctors who determine that opioid painkillers are needed should prescribe the lowest possible dose for the shortest amount of time, the guidelines state. “More than 40 Americans die each day from prescription opioid overdoses, we must act now,” said CDC Director Tom Frieden, MD, MPH, said in a news release. “Overprescribing opioids—largely...
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Some States Limiting Prescribing of Opioids

Some States Limiting Prescribing of Opioids
Some states are limiting how opioids are prescribed, in an effort to reduce the number of deaths from prescription painkillers, The New York Times reports. These states are frustrated by a lack of action by the federal government. Last week legislators in Massachusetts passed a measure that would limit opioid prescriptions to a seven-day supply after surgery or an injury. The Massachusetts Medical Society supported the seven-day limit on opioid prescriptions. “Usually we are opposed to carving anything in stone that has to do with medical practice,” said Dr. Dennis Dimitri, President of the Massachusetts Medical Society. “But we are willing to go forward with this limitation because we recognize this is a unique public health crisis.” Vermont and Maine lawmakers are considering similar measures. Governors are scheduled to meet this summer to develop a plan to reduce the use of opioids painkillers, the article notes. “If we could adopt...
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