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Prescription meds: State monitors sales to curb abuse
The Washington State Department of Health announced another monitoring program, this one aimed at tracking the sales of prescription pain medication and other potentially addictive medicines.
The Washington State Prescription Monitoring Program launched this month in an effort to “reduce abuse and promote safety,” according to the department.
The number of people dying from prescription medication overdoses is growing in Washington. From 2000 to 2010, the overdose death rate involving prescription pain medication more than doubled, and since 2006, deaths in (Washington) from unintentional drug overdoses “have surpassed deaths from automobile crashes,” according to the department.
State Secretary of Health Mary Selecky said this tool will help medical professionals have a clearer picture of a patient’s prescription medicine history, and will help promote safety.
“Having a patient’s prescription history gives prescribers a more complete view of patient care when they prescribe or dispense controlled substances,” Selecky said in an Oct. 13 news release. “This new service is another tool for patient care and safety.”
According to the department, “information from pharmacies and health care providers who dispense medicine from their offices (will be) gathered and stored in a secured, central database.” Starting in January 2012, health care providers can view the history of patients’ prescriptions dating back to when the data collection began.
The hope is that with this data, “prescribers and pharmacists will be able to intervene with their patients earlier,” according to the department. The DOH touts that this new data collection system will help “identify dangerous drug interactions, address issues of misuse, and recognize under-managed pain or the need for substance abuse treatment.”
Outside of health care providers, pharmacists and patients, this new data collection system will be accessible by law enforcement as well. More information on the program and the law is available at www.doh.wa.gov/hsqa/PMP/public.htm.
National Prescription Drug Take Back Day
The Federal Way Police Department will participate in the National Prescription Drug Take Back Day on Oct. 29 at police headquarters at City Hall. The event will run 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., and is intended for people to safely dispose of unused and unwanted prescription medications.
According to the Drug Enforcement Agency’s “Office of Diversion Control” website, these “Take Back” days address a vital public safety and public health issue. More than 7 million Americans abuse prescription drugs, according to a 2009 survey conducted by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. More than 2,500 teens use prescription drugs to get high for the first time, according to the Partnership for a Drug Free America. According to the DEA, a majority of abused prescription drugs “are obtained from family and friends, including the home medicine cabinet.”
Two take back days took place in September 2010 and April 2011. The DEA indicates that nearly 4,000 state and local law enforcement agencies participated in the two previous take back days, and these efforts collected more than 309 tons of unused/unwanted pills.
The event will happen every six months, the website indicates, until the DEA is able to “develop a process for people to safely dispose of their prescription drugs.” President Barack Obama signed the Safe and Secure Drug Disposal Act in October 2010, giving the DEA the means to develop that process.