Researchers Battle Painkiller Epidemic
Prescription painkillers are responsible for more fatal overdoses in the United States than heroin and cocaine combined. And while most states have programs to curb abuse and addiction, a new report from Brandeis University shows that many states do not fully analyze the data they collect.
Experts from the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program Center of Excellence at Brandeis University's Heller School for Social Policy and Management systematically assessed prescription drug monitoring programs and found a patchwork of strategies and standards. Their report also outlines best practices that all U.S. states and territories can use to improve their effectiveness.
"An epidemic of prescription drug abuse is devastating American families and draining state and federal time, money and manpower," said Rep. Hal Rogers (R-Ky.), chairman of the House Appropriations Committee. "Law enforcement and health officials are doing heroic work and, thankfully, this report provides a roadmap to help them further."
Among the study's primary conclusions: prescription drug monitoring programs should shift from a reactive to a proactive approach.
"Being proactive is the key to success in the fight against prescription painkiller abuse," said John L. Eadie, Director, PDMP Center of Excellence at the Heller School for Social Policy and Management, Brandeis University. "While doctors may routinely collect and report data to a state program that signals where and when prescription painkillers are likely being misused, the program might not share that information with others who can best use it."