Senate Bill Would Require Doctor Training to Fight Prescription Drug Abuse

A bill co-sponsored by Senator Chuck Schumer (NY) and Jay Rockefeller (WV) would require doctors to receive training for prescribing opiate-based narcotics, the Times Union reports.

The training would cover clinical standards on safe management of pain, help doctors better identify patients who are vulnerable to addiction, and provide information on alternatives to opiate narcotics for pain management, according to a news release from Sen. Schumer’s office. Under current law, the Drug Enforcement Administration does not require doctors, dentists and other authorized prescribers to undergo training in order to obtain a license to dispense opioids.

The Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act of 2011 also would increase sentences for robbing pharmacies of controlled substances, as well as for stealing medical products and transporting and storing them. Under the bill, the penalty for committing a prescription drug-related crime would jump from 10 years to 20 years in prison.

The bill also would provide $25 million for states to create or upgrade prescription drug monitoring systems.

In April, the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy announced a new government strategy to cut the use of prescription painkillers by 15 percent in five years. The plan includes doctor training, promoting prescription databases in all states and increased focus on rooting out illegal ‘pill mill’ clinics.

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    July 27, 2011 at 2:16 PM

    Opiate addiction is a common and predictable complication of long term opiate prescription. Until a better solution for pain control is discovered, or until accurate prediction of opiate addiction stops physicians from prescribing narcotic pain medication (without utilizing the currently acceptable practice of an in vivo human assay via a “trial of medication” to ascertain if the patient will become addicted), addiction will continue to be a problem. Unfortunately, that is state-of-the-art pain management.

    When patients become neutropenic after chemotherapy, (a predictable complication of chemotherapy), oncologists do not abandon them. They treat the neutropenia and then weight the risks and benefits of further chemotherapy. They may not prescribe further chemotherapy, but they do not “fire” their patients.

    It is troubling that physicians who prescribe opiate pain medications are actually encouraged to abandon their patients when they become addicted (“Teaching Physicians to Prescribe Responsibly”). Handing an addicted patient a list of 12 step meetings and suggesting that they find a doctor to prescribe Suboxone does not constitute treatment of addiction any more than handing a book on Infectious Diseases and a list of Infectious Disease specialists would constitute treatment of neutropenia.

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    July 18, 2011 at 11:07 AM

    Rather than make laws that punish the majoriety of providers who are competent and ethical; why not just deal with those who are not! And better yet, why not address the pharmaceutical company who origianlly stated that Oxycontin would be reserved for the treatment of intractible cancer pain!

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    July 16, 2011 at 4:11 PM

    I think requiring members of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy to have medical degrees before they begin to address medical issues would be far more appropriate.

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    July 15, 2011 at 3:53 PM

    You hit in right on the head, NAABT, this bill will only make it more difficult for people who need pain meds to access them. Research shows that most illicit opiate users get their supplies from “family and friends” NOT by “doctor shopping”. More education for the general public is what is needed, NOT more restrictions on doctors.

    I hope that saner heads prevail in Congress because this illthought out bill will have horrible consequences.

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