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Senate Looking For Ways To Prevent Prescription Drug Abuse

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Residents of Staten Island will benefit from a donation by Mallinckrodt Pharmaceuticals of 10,000 drug deactivation pouches that will be distributed free through Delco Drugs & Specialty Pharmacy and Staten Island South Shore YMCA. The announcement to provide a safe and responsible drug disposal method to prevent abuse and misuse of leftover prescription medication comes just days before National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day on Saturday, Oct. 22.

The drug deactivation pouches were purchased and donated by Mallinckrodt, a leading global specialty pharmaceutical company. The user-friendly, pouch-based systems deactivate prescription drugs and render chemical compounds safe for landfills. After placing pills in the specially formulated pouch and adding regular tap water, it can be sealed and thrown away with the household trash. Along with the announcement, community leaders underscored the urgent need to find ways to prevent prescription drug abuse before it begins. They included New York State Sen. Andrew J. Lanza, New York Assemblyman Michael Cusick (D Mid-Island), Richmond County District Attorney Michael McMahon and representatives of the Staten Island South Shore YMCA and area law enforcement.

Schumer said that opioids are often a gateway to other illegal drugs such as heroin and, unfortunately, they are often easy to find simply by rummaging through a family medicine cabinet. Schumer explained that people who become addicted to prescription opioids often then turn to even cheaper highs available on the street, such as heroin. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), nationwide, 70 percent of those addicted to prescription drugs get them from homes, and only 5 percent get them from a drug dealer. As a result, Schumer has long supported measures to combat prescription drug abuse and ways to get prescription drugs and illegal opioids out of the hands of addicts or from finding their way onto the street.

Schumer is responsible for bringing back the previously discontinued Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day. In September 2015, Schumer successfully urged the agency to reverse course on its decision to discontinue the program, citing that it was hugely successful in reducing painkiller abuse cases and saving lives. Schumer said that while this program is effective, it is only held annually and, therefore, is not always a convenient and timely option for families to rid their medicine cabinets of these prescription drugs. Therefore, Schumer said private companies, pharmacies and larger retailers could help put an end to this scourge by installing kiosks at their locations that allow individuals to properly dispose of their prescription drugs at their neighborhood pharmacy or retailer year-round.

I write today to highlight the importance of working together with all parts of the health care system, the federal government and private companies to tackle the critical issue of opioid abuse. Pharmacies are a vital part of the health care system and often times a common provider and source of healthcare information and resources for people. As such, I request that you work with your member companies and partners to help facilitate an increase of resources to address opioid abuse, specifically through pharmacy prescription drug take back service in New York. As you are aware, giving consumers the ability to return unwanted, unused or expired medications to local drop off points is a powerful tool in safeguarding communities of dangerous drugs.

In parts of New York such as the Hudson Valley drug rates are on the rise and I believe local pharmacies have an opportunity to implement a prescription drug take back service such as drug disposal kiosks. These kiosks and other similar services provide a safe and secure method to dispose of unused opioids and other medications and can help fight the drug epidemic that has swept the region and throughout the state of New York. Specifically, Ulster County has voiced strong support for such a service and with drug-related death rates rapidly growing each year, it's an ideal host for this program. As your companies continue to develop strategies on the ways pharmacies can be one of the tools in getting medications off the streets, I ask that you closely look at and strongly consider Ulster County as a community where you install these services.

"Our country is in the midst of an opioid addiction crisis, and we need to take immediate steps to help reduce prescription drug abuse," Senator Bennet said. "This bipartisan bill takes commonsense steps to reduce the number of unused prescription painkillers and keep them out of the hands of those who may abuse them."

Reducing the amount of unused prescription painkillers is a critical part of addressing the ongoing opioid abuse epidemic. Current Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) regulations permit drugs in Schedules III, IV, and V to be partially filled, but the regulations are narrower and less clear for schedule II drugs, including prescription opioids. This legislation will resolve any ambiguity and clear the way for states that are considering partial fill policies to act.

Several measures were passed to empower individuals and update current prevention efforts. Patients will receive access to non-opiate directive forms and the option of partially filling opioid prescriptions in consultation with doctors and pharmacists. Schools must annually conduct verbal substance misuse screenings in two grade levels and collaborate with the Departments of Elementary and Second Education (DESE) and Public Health (DPH) around effective addiction education policies. To reduce the prevalence of unused medication, manufacturers of controlled substances in Massachusetts must participate in either a drug stewardship program or an alternative plan as determined by DPH.

Background: Prescription drug monitoring programs (PDMPs) are proving to be valuable resources in fighting the prescription drug abuse epidemic through improved access to patient drug histories. Ninety-four percent of Indiana pharmacists have heard of Indiana's PDMP (INSPECT), only 71% of them reported using the program in 2012.

Methods: A cross-sectional study examined pharmacists' knowledge and use of INSPECT. Bivariate analyses on utilization and perceived barriers were conducted using cross-tabulations and chi-squared tests. Multiple logistic regression examined the relationship between pharmacists' level of concern with prescription drug abuse and reported utilization.

Results: Pharmacists were significantly less likely to use INSPECT if they reported at least one barrier and 3 times more likely to use INSPECT if they reported no barrier. Pharmacists were 10 times more likely to use INSPECT and 18 times more likely to use it more consistently if they were extremely concerned about prescription drug abuse in their community as compared to those not at all concerned.

Conclusion: Strategies to improve utilization of PDMPs should look for innovative ways to limit barriers and build outpatient pharmacists' awareness of prescription drug abuse and misuse within their community. 153554b96e


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