Effective, Local Solutions Available for Pain Med Abuse in Colorado
Specialized Pharmacy and Drug Take-back Program Satisfy Unmet Safety Needs
DENVER, Dec. 7, 2016 – At a recent briefing for Colorado health professionals and policy makers, local pain management experts explained and evaluated approaches to preventing medication overdoses and discouraging drug diversion to help reduce the state’s death toll from opioid and heroin abuse. According to session speaker Steven Wright, M.D. a family physician, pain management and addiction consultant and vice president of the Colorado Pain Society, there are workable and practical solutions available in the community to help prevent medication abuse and provide safe treatment for those who suffer from opioid addiction.
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 or diverted. “Physicians need to be confident their pain medication prescriptions will be filled correctly and securely,” said Wright.
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 customer 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.
“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.cordantsolutions.com owns and operates a controlled- substance pharmacy located in Denver.
Secure, Community-based Solution
“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,” he 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.”
“The patients never touch 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 for Cordant Health Solutions. He said the pharmacist checks the state’s prescription drug monitoring program and patient 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 and ADHD, as well as other controlled substances and medications that are often prescribed in the treatment of patients with chronic pain. Patients, therefore, do not have to spend time searching for a pharmacy that stocks narcotic analgesics. 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.”
Take-back Programs Are Critical for Reducing Opioid Abuse
Wright believes more physicians should encourage their patients to dispose unused pain medications by participating in drug take back programs. Cordant announced in September that it has established take-back programs in 10 states, including Colorado. The program allows patients to safely and conveniently return unused prescribed pain medication for legal disposal, and help prevent a leading cause of prescription drug deaths – medication theft from the home and improper drug sharing.
Sixty-two percent of teens who admit taking medication for non-medical reasons say they get drugs from medicine cabinets in their homes, according to the Office of National Drug Control Policy. This creates a dangerous temptation to experiment with controlled substances and risk catastrophic outcomes.
“There is an urgent need for free, ongoing and convenient community-based services that allow consumers to safely dispose of opioids and other drugs,” said Wright. “It is a simple and practical solution for proper and safe disposal of medications so they don’t stay in medicine cabinets.”
Cordant’s take-back program provides mail-back envelops to patients who use Cordant’s specialized pharmacies, or doctors can give the envelopes to patients during consultations. Patients can fill the Cordant take-back envelopes with their unused drugs in the original containers, affix the prepaid mailing label, and place in any U.S Postal Service mailbox. The program satisfies requirements of the Secure and Responsible Drug Disposal Act.
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.