According to an article on Medscape News, to help reduce the widespread misuse and abuse of prescriptions drugs in the United States, White House officials from the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) recently announced the launch of a national action plan that aims to heighten public awareness of the nation’s fastest-growing drug problem.
The action plan advocates for education among prescription drug users, prescribers and manufacturers, as well as more stringent legislation that regulates monitoring and drug disposal programs. The ONDCP outlined the four goals of the new plan:
- Expand awareness and education to physicians, researchers and the public;
- Expand efforts to monitor the prescribing of these drugs, including calling upon every state to set up a program;
- Make it easier for consumers to dispose of drugs; and
- Shut down “pill mills” and reduce doctor shopping.
The creators of this multifaceted approach hope to reduce prescription drug abuse by 15 percent over the next five years.
In order to meet the goals set forth by new national action plan, the FDA has created a Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategy (REMS) program, which will require manufacturers of extended-release and long-acting opioid medications to develop and pay for risk-benefit plans and education programs for health professionals, as well as education programs for patients.
Along with the ONDCP and FDA, the DEA hopes to make it easier for communities to dispose of unwanted or unused drugs. According to the ONDCP, as much as 40 percent of all prescriptions go unused, and 7 of 10 medication abusers get their drugs from a friend or family member’s medicine cabinet. To cut back on the number of unused medications, the new action plan recommends responsible drug disposal methods, and it empowers local communities to host Take Back Programs for prescription drug collection.
Finally, the action plan will curb doctor shopping and so-called “pill mills” by monitoring the prescribing of drugs and targeting physicians who abuse their prescribing privileges. The plan increases resources, training and support for federal agencies and state medical boards to take action against pain clinics and prescribers who perpetuate this critical issue.
There are currently prescription drug monitoring programs in 35 states; the action plan seeks to expand those efforts to the remaining states and encourage the sharing of patient data between all states.
The overarching goal of this new action plan is to ensure that health professionals have the knowledge and training to deliver effective pain management care and that patients understand the risks of opioid products, says the FDA. The plan creates a partnership that hopes to fully address and tackle these issues from a public health and safety approach, and reduce the number of Americans who are affected by this crisis.
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