Report Calls for Stricter Guidelines for Prescribing and Dispensing Opioids

Physicians and pharmacists should be the focus of efforts to reduce prescription opioid misuse, according to a new report by public health experts.

Doctors often prescribe opioids “in quantities and for conditions that are excessive, and in many cases, beyond the evidence base,” according to the report, which was issued this week by Johns Hopkins University’s Bloomberg School of Public Health.

Existing state and federal rules for prescribing opioids are too permissive, and doctors and pharmacists need greater monitoring and training, the experts said. They called for mandatory training in pain management and opioid prescribing for doctors and medical students, The Washington Post reports.

Andrea Gielen, Director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Injury Research and Policy, said in a statement that the recommendations “cover the entire supply chain, from training doctors to working with pharmacies and the pharmaceuticals themselves, as well as reducing demand by mobilizing communities and treating people addicted to opioids.”

The report recommended that medical licensing boards have greater authority to investigate high-risk prescribers and dispensers. Prescription data should be collected to identify patients who may need addiction treatment, the experts advised. They also recommended increasing drug take-back programs, as well as expanding availability of the opioid overdose antidote naloxone.

Use of prescription drug monitoring programs should be mandatory, the experts said. In many states, these programs are voluntary, and their design varies from state to state, the article notes. The experts also want data in these programs to be more accessible to law enforcement when warranted.

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    Bill Mims

    November 19, 2015 at 4:12 PM

    As a Substance Abuse Counselor, I too often have to treat folks who were questionably prescribed controlled substances, especially opiates and benzodiazepines, by private physicians, who should know better. Most often, these are family care docs, who seem to be clueless about addiction. I believe that all family care physicians should have to do a rotation in a drug treatment facility as part of their residency.

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