Last year, 38,400 men, women and children died from narcotic related overdoses.
For this reason, Health Insurance companies, Pharmacy Chains, Prescription Drug Manufacturers, and Prescription Drug Wholesalers are coming under the watchful eye of the DEA and Bureau of Narcotic Enforcement as well.
With the passage of the Affordable Care Act (ObamaCare), Health Insurance Companies must now insure patients with pre-existing illnesses, including narcotic addiction. Narcotic addicted patients attend extraneous office visits, they repeatedly access urgent care clinics and emergency rooms for overdose and withdrawal issues, they have unnecessary procedures, they require very expensive stays in narcotic treatment centers, only to relapse weeks and months later, and they are often given long acting narcotics with the intention of getting them off short acting opiates with high abuse potentials. Those long acting opiates typically cost Health Plans 50 to 100% more than generic short acting narcotic medications. The net results are that these narcotic dependent and addicted patients cost a Health Plan at times 500% more than a patient that is not addicted to narcotics.
Most physicians and pharmacists in the country are blind to the fact that writing narcotics, sleeping medications, mood stabilizers, and stimulants, for even 1 patient a day, introduces risk to their professional practice. The neglect is alarmingly illustrated in one of the largest states in the country.
In the state of California, there are about 180,000 licensed medical doctors, 7,000 licensed physician assistants, 14,000 licensed nurse practitioners, and 24,000 pharmacists. Of those nearly 220,000 licensed medial providers, only about 5% or 11,000 have actually applied to use the Prescription Drug Monitoring System for the state. It is unknown how many of those roughly 11,000 medical providers actually use the California Cures prescription drug monitoring program on a daily basis to influence patient care decision making.
The California CURES program happens to be the oldest prescription drug monitoring system in the country, allowing licensed medical providers the ability to view the prescription activity report (PAR Report) from a patient that has been receiving narcotic and controlled medications from medical providers in the past 12 months.
With close to 40,000 annual narcotic related deaths, and the possibility of losing your license to practice medicine and face possible jail time, one would think medical providers would be more proactive in their efforts to prevent narcotic seeking patients and narcotic addicts from abusing medications and potentially overdosing. But in a state like California, that developed the Kaiser Permanente model for prevention based health care, narcotic use and abuse prevention has fallen on deaf ears in the professional medical setting.
It is time to take control of the prescription drug epidemic that is plaguing our country. We need better solutions and a better model to monitor every controlled medication prescribed, validate ever doctor-patient encounter, and communicate that information to pharmacists.