Congress, Help Combat Prescription Drug Abuse

Commentary by Cynthia Reilly (directs The Pew Charitable Trusts’ prescription drug abuse project)

Experts convened by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention concluded in 2012 that PRRs have the potential to save lives and lower health care costs by reducing opioid use to safer levels. These programs have already yielded benefits for patients enrolled in them. In Oklahoma, Medicaid patients in a PRR program used fewer narcotic medications, decreased their visits to multiple pharmacies and physicians to obtain these drugs, and made fewer visits to emergency departments. Opioid doses were reduced by 40 percent for patients enrolled in the Ohio Medicaid PRR program…

The problem is that current federal law prevents Medicare from using PRRs. But there is significant bipartisan momentum building for change…

Click to access pdo_patient_review_meeting-a.pdf

My comment:

“The result is that the doctor and pharmacist improve care coordination and patients have access to the pain medication they need while lowering the risk of overdose.”

I think you’re cherry-picking the results. Lowering the risk of overdose does not equal pain patients getting the medications and care they need. In fact, the results show that pain patients are being abandoned by their doctors, with even fewer doctors willing to treat anyone labeled as a chronic pain patient, both in the Medicaid and Medicare programs.

“These programs have already yielded benefits for patients enrolled in them.”

None of the results you’ve mentioned indicate any benefit for pain patients. The results say that programs saved money, but nothing is said about how these programs affected pain patients.  I would have thought you would at least know of the deaths caused by methadone because Medicaid has approved that drug for chronic pain patients due to its low cost.

As the CDC’s 2012 report indicates:

“Although the published literature demonstrates a positive impact on cost and some medical and pharmacy utilization measures, there is a clear need for more current and robust evaluations of PRR programs to examine impact on health-related outcomes such as hospitalizations and overdose deaths [the suicide rate, and the increased number of patients filing for disability].,,”

One thought on “Congress, Help Combat Prescription Drug Abuse

  1. people should get enough pain medicine to control their pain to at least a tolerable level, preferably a low or no pain level, for as long as needed. anything less is (or should be) malpractice. and the government has no business telling a patient what they do or don’t need, or telling a doctor how to practice medicine (where the doctor has studied years to obtain their degree, and the government members have not).

    Liked by 1 person

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