PhRMA supports script limits to cut opioid abuse
- PhRMA came out on Wednesday in support of a seven-day script limit on first-time opioid medications for acute pain, in a move to combat the worsening opioid epidemic. The industry group did suggest, however, there should be some exclusions, including management of cancer pain or treating patients in addiction recovery.
- Federal and state policies that put this limit in place were just part of the discussion during a hearing held by the President’s Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis. The Commission is set to give a final report to President Donald Trump by Nov. 1 with suggestions on dealing with the drug epidemic.
- Between 2000 and 2015, death from opioid poisoning more than tripled. Overdose deaths from synthetic opioids more than doubled in number between 2015 and 2016.
As PhRMA president and CEO Stephen J. Ubl explains, PhRMA is supporting this move, by backing the seven-day limitation as part of a multi-faceted solution, which should also include improved prescriber education and better coverage of treatment alternatives.
"We are taking this step because we believe the worsening opioid epidemic demands additional solutions, with new protections for patients. Too often, individuals receive a 30-day supply of opioid medicines for minor treatments or short-term pain. Overprescribing and dispensing can lead to patients taking opioids longer than necessary or to excess pills falling into the wrong hands," said Ubl.
This follows CVS Health's move last week to limit supplies of opioids to seven days for acute use in patients new to therapy, amongst other measures in its new advanced opioid utilization management approach.
Some states have already put policies in place limiting opioid prescriptions, which has been a contributing factor to the overdose epidemic. Yet, it's just a small step to combat the problem.
The pharma and biotech industries have been working for years to develop non-addictive pain killers, but have largely fallen short so far. Others have worked on ways to make their opioids not as easily abusable by making pills that do not crush easily and therefore can't be snorted or that can't be dissolved in liquids. Yet, addicts have found other ways to abuse these medications, including injecting them. This has led to the sharing of needles amongst addicts and the spread of other infectious diseases like HIV and hepatitis C.
- Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America Statement
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