Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack met Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill last Friday to discuss the opioid abuse crisis.
Both parties support the program, but there is still some opposition to its implementation. The main counterargument is that the program would attempt against the patient’s privacy. The other 49 states have prescription drug monitoring programs and have not had issues with privacy.
Missouri gives in
Senator McCaskill addressed the fact that people from neighboring countries are also affected by the lack of a monitoring program in Missouri. She mentioned that Tennessee managed to reduce the opioid abuse rates by a third, thanks to their monitoring program.
There is an outspoken bipartisan support for implementing the program, seeing that it has an impact on a federal level, which has led several Republicans to give in on the issue.
“I’m usually not a proponent of giving into peer pressure, but I do think in this case, when it comes to doing everything we can do to try to curb this epidemic that is around us, I think this is something we should do,” Republican State Representative for Missouri Caleb Rowden stated to ABC News.
A crisis far from resolving
According to the U.S. Department of Human Services, 78 people die from an opioid-related overdose each day. The opioid epidemic also reflects itself at least $55 billion in health expenses each year.
The new guidelines issued by CDC advises patients to discuss treatment options before taking prescription drugs, but the main problem lies in the act of providing the medicine without strict regulation. Prescribing Drug Monitoring Programs (PDMP) are databases that can be accessed on a national level. They allow physicians to keep an updated record of each patient that has bought prescription medicine. This allows identifying high-risk patients that may be prone to addiction.
PMDPs are updated in real time and allow state health departments to collect data to study the epidemic and identify trends. Some states allow physicians to transfer PDMP credentials to other health professionals.
Without prescription drugs, they resort to heroin
Although it saw some dispute before being widely implemented, PMDPs have been credited as a success in several states.
Florida regulated prescription drugs in 2010, and in only two years it saw a 50 percent decrease in the number of oxycodone overdose deaths. It is the first documented significant decline in overdose mortality in ten years. Law enforcement events have also dropped abruptly after the program’s implementation, as it was on a steady rise from 2005 up to 2010.
But opioid addicts in Florida have resorted to heroin due to the not finding prescription drugs. The Miami Herald reported a significant increase in the number of babies born addicted to heroin. Florida also became the leading state of new HIV infections, which has been linked to needle sharing by heroin users. Two years ago, the National Institute on Drug Abuse declared a heroin epidemic in South Florida.
The repercussions of forbidding the addict’s access to legal prescription drugs mean that they will resort to other methods of satiation. When dealing with these crises, it is not enough to address the drug itself, but also educating and treating the victims of drug abuse.
Source: ABC 17 News