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Rx Drug Abuse Summit – key takeaways

I’ll keep this short.  Heading home from Atlanta and an incredibly disturbing Rx Drug Abuse Summit.  A few key takeaways.

  • The increase in the prescription opioid death toll is terrifying.  These are drugs ONLY AVAILABLE WITH A DOCTOR’S PRESCRIPTION.
  • cdc-us-overdose-deaths-2014_jr-2
  • Heroin is getting even worse – driven largely by the rampant over-prescribing of opioids.  75% of heroin users started with prescription opioids.cdc-us-overdose-deaths-2014_jr-5
  • We are making progress.  Lots of different approaches, very passionate people, truly impressive effort by the Feds.
  • There’s disagreement around the margins, but not with the central issue – opioid abuse is an unmitigated disaster.

The net is this.  There are far, far too many docs writing way more opioid scripts than they should.  Tens of thousands of people are dying, families are destroyed, kids left without parents.

You want to talk about treating pain?  

How about the pain of kids without parents, moms without daughters, sisters without brothers, communities without hope.

Who is treating their pain?

and who is causing it?

7 thoughts on “Rx Drug Abuse Summit – key takeaways”

  1. Can I post this on facebook? My kids school is having a conference in April for this particular issue for parents.

  2. Joe
    yes this is a nightmare for these Families and will take a village to put it back together. A lot of young people to lose a son or daughter is the worst thing that can happen to a parent.

  3. I see big government talking a big game on how they are going to reduce the drugs in our workers’ compensation world. However, when there is an attempt to wean an employee off opioids, the physicians will not listen but send the employee to pain management. Our attempt to stop the opioids again is faced with deafness. Basically, the physicians continue to write out prescriptions and the judges will not back our efforts. The government needs to back their works, discipline the physicians and judges.

    1. thanks for the note. My sense is things are changing. albeit slowly. Please keep fighting the good fight. I know Broadspire has an excellent management approach to opioids; if you aren’t using that capability you may want to look into it.

  4. My nephew died almost 4 years ago this month from an over dose. An absentee father didn’t help. The pain and guilt my sister endures everyday is unbearable.
    In my nephews honor I’ve opened up a substance abuse company, but realize it doesn’t even scratch the surface of the chronic Abuse that’s out there. Keep at Joe.

  5. I agree that there is rampant abuse of opioids. Many physicians in Florida have since stopped Rxing opioids, and many pharmacies do not fill opioid Rxs. I have personally seen this lead to over-caution which hurts patients in severe pain. For example, my father has lung cancer. He lives in Lake Worth, FL and his oncologist prescribed Hydrocodone/Acetaminophen for his pain. The oncology staff advised that there was only one pharmacy in the area that could fill this Rx (none of the local Walgreens or CVS pharmacies would fill according to the staff, who learned this from other oncology patients). I had to take my dad to a small family-owned pharmacy, and there was a long wait; everyone there was referred by oncologists and many were in severe pain and had difficulty waiting; the pharmacy was tiny and there were only two chairs available. If all pharmacies would fill needed Rxs then the wait would not have been so long; decisions to fill Rxs should be made based on diagnoses and should be done by competent pharmacists.

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Joe Paduda is the principal of Health Strategy Associates



A national consulting firm specializing in managed care for workers’ compensation, group health and auto, and health care cost containment. We serve insurers, employers and health care providers.



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