Specialized Pharmacies Satisfy Unmet Security Need for Preventing Pain Medication Misuse
DENVER, Jan. 9, 2017 – The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) recently mandated steep cuts in production for opioid pain medications to reduce the available supply in an effort to lower risks for drug misuse, overdose and death. Cutting the drug supply, however, does not address risk-management concerns underlying addiction and drug-seeking behavior. In Colorado and other states, establishing specialized controlled substances pharmacies is proving to be a workable and practical solution to help prevent medication abuse and assure that legitimate pain patients will continue to receive the medication they need.
According to Steven Wright, M.D. a family physician, pain management and addiction consultant and vice president of the Colorado Pain Society, improved risk management, not drug supply reduction is more likely to reduce deaths from medication overdoses. “Addiction is the number-one cause of opioid deaths and despite the DEA’s action, addicts will continue to find drugs, and this in part accounts for the surge in deaths from synthetic fentanyl and heroin. “Doctors need better risk-management resources to help determine which patients are most likely to misuse pain medications.”
Wright added that in two studies examining background causes for opioid-related deaths, 80-to-95 percent of the victims showed behaviors indicating a serious addiction problem needing appropriate medical intervention.
A major concern, according to Wright, is that once a doctor writes a prescription for an opioid pain medication, they trust patients will take the medication as prescribed, but they have no absolute certainty the prescription will not be duplicated or altered, diverted or misused by the patient. “Physicians need to be confident their pain medication prescriptions will be filled correctly and securely,” said Wright.
“Specialized, secure controlled substances pharmacies can reduce the risk for illegal duplication or alteration of controlled-substance prescriptions, and decrease doctor shopping behavior while providing convenient access for patients who need these medications,” said Wright. Colorado-based Cordant Health Solutions, www.cordantpharmacy.com owns and operates a controlled- substance pharmacies located in Denver, Seattle and Indianapolis.
He added that some retail pharmacies do not have adequate inventories of controlled substances and fail to check state-run prescription drug monitoring program databases to make sure the patient is not taking contra-indicated medications, using multiple pharmacies, or engaging in other drug-seeking behavior. The state of Colorado only requires that prescribers and pharmacists register for access. It does not mandate that they check before writing controlled substances prescriptions or before dispensing medications.
Secure, Community-based Solution
“The patients never touch the prescriptions. They are picked up at the doctor’s office or the doctor can e-prescribe to the Cordant pharmacy,” said Michael Mapes, former DEA manager and Cordant pharmacy compliance officer. He said the pharmacist checks the state’s prescription drug monitoring program and the patient’s laboratory test results. Once the prescription clears the review, the medication is delivered to the patient at home or work. Cordant dispenses all of the most commonly prescribed drugs for pain, addiction medicine and ADHD. Patients, therefore, do not have to spend time searching for a pharmacy that stocks narcotic pain meds. In addition, the pharmacist will communicate with the prescriber about any concerns identified, which is critical for the patient’s safe use of the medication.”
“Denver’s controlled substances pharmacy is a community-based, private-sector solution for controlling pain medication misuse in ways that do not require legislation or a government regulation. It helps assure doctors they will be able to monitor treatment compliance and help prevent drug misuse and diversion. Also, patients can be confident they will obtain medications they legitimately need,” Wright explained. “I urge physicians who prescribe narcotic pain medications to use the specialized controlled-substance pharmacy to keep control of their prescriptions and how, when and where they are filled.”
Based in Denver, Cordant Health Solutions™ is at the forefront of combating today’s opioid epidemic through its network of toxicology laboratories and pharmacies. Cordant is committed to providing solutions for payers, clinicians and agencies involved with addiction, criminal justice and pain management. Cordant is one of the only toxicology laboratories that includes a full-service, high-touch pharmacy that specializes in complex management and dispensing of controlled substances. Cordant provides testing protocols and digital case-management tools to help customers become more efficient and effective in using toxicology test results.