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Efforts Made to Reduce Prescription Drug Abuse

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 50 people die every day from prescription drug overdoses nationwide, and the commonwealth and a physicians group want stricter regulations for Pennsylvania.

“Prescription drugs are getting into the wrong hands via many different channels … This is an issue we are taking very seriously at the Medical Society, and believe that physicians need to play their role in fighting this crisis,” said Michael Fraser Executive, vice president of the Pennsylvania Medical Society.

The Safe and Effective Opioid Prescribing Practices and Pain Management Task Force started by the Corbett administration plans to implement several policies to make drugs less accessible including:

  • A central database on prescribed drugs
  • Alternative treatments to opioid prescriptions
  • Placing take back boxes for old unused prescribed and over the counter drugs

“Everything that we are doing here with our task force is looking to [patient first always] as the hallmark to be vanguards to the quality of their care and to help the legislature and the Corbett administration to address the crisis. So we would like the governor and our legislators to rely on the expert advice,” said David Talentei, vice chair of the PA Medical Society Board of Trustees.
Healthcare providers will be able to access the central database to see where patients are getting their prescriptions filled to make sure that they are only going to one pharmacy rather than multiple pharmacies for the same prescription.

Michael Ashburn, director of Penn Pain Medical Center in Philadelphia, believes that one of the keys to addressing prescription drug abuse will be to stop treating chronic pain only through opioids. Instead doctors should also include proper interventional care when appropriate, psychological care including cognitive behavioral therapy, and activating physical therapy.

The take back boxes are one of the easiest ideas to implement. They will be set up in many locations so that people can safely dispose of their old medications rather than letting them sit in there cabinets where they can be easily taken by friends or family members.

Jess was accepted as a WESA fellow in the news department in January 2014. The Erie, PA native attends Duquesne University where she has a double major--broadcast journalism and political science. Following her anticipated graduation in May 2015, she plans to enter law school or begin a career in broadcast journalism.