Alliance to Prevent the Abuse of Medicines Issues Open Letter to Senate Appropriations Committee Urging Increased Funding to Battle Prescription Drug Abuse
WASHINGTON, DC (May 12, 2015) – In an open letter sent to the Senate Appropriations Committee Subcommittee on Labor-HHS-Education, the Alliance to Prevent the Abuse of Medicines urged the need for dedicated resources to be put forth toward curbing prescription drug abuse and misuse – an emerging healthcare issue facing the nation.
The letter highlighted the complexity of this growing public health threat and the necessity for federal and state leaders to collaborate on achievable solutions. The Alliance focused the attention of the Senate appropriators to the importance of increased funding for Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs (PDMPs) within the states, and offered its services as a resource and partner.
In 2014, the group released its nine legislative concepts, which address prevention, education, early intervention, drug monitoring, treatment, and safe disposal.
The full text of the letter is included below:
Dear Chairmen Blunt and Cole, and Ranking Members Murray and DeLauro:
We write to respectfully urge your attention and dedication of resources toward the national public health issue of prescription drug diversion and abuse. The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) has labeled prescription drug abuse a “deadly epidemic” that takes the lives of nearly 15,000 Americans each year. While this is a national health problem, it can be crippling to local communities, and the complexity and interplay between federal and state policy in addressing this epidemic is undisputed.
By way of background, the Alliance to Prevent the Abuse of Medicines is a non-profit partnership of key stakeholders in the prescription drug supply chain, including manufacturers, distributors, pharmacy benefit managers, pharmacies, physicians, testing laboratories, and treatment providers, that have joined together to develop and offer policy solutions aimed at addressing the prescription drug abuse epidemic. The mission of the Alliance is to raise awareness of the issue of prescription drug abuse, partner with legislators to craft achievable solutions, and serve as a resource for policymakers. As the only coalition focused on this issue that includes representation across the domestic pharmaceutical supply chain, the Alliance brings a comprehensive perspective to addressing the prescription drug abuse epidemic.
The Alliance wishes to highlight for your consideration the importance of each state fully developing and operating a robust and efficient Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PDMP). The Alliance believes that to be as effective as possible, PDMPs must be adequately maintained and funded, available at the point-of-care with up-to-date information, and integrated into prescriber and dispenser workflow. When this is achieved, PDMPs will represent a major step toward ensuring that patients have access to the care they need, including controlled substances as appropriate, and that these medicines are not inappropriately prescribed, dispensed or diverted. An effective PDMP should require timely input by dispensers, as well as allow physicians, pharmacists and other authorized users real-time access to the data as part of their ordinary workflow and patient electronic health records (EHRs).
However, despite 49 states operating PDMPs and evidence demonstrating that fully functional PDMPs help with clinical decision-making and continuity of care, there is wide variation in the states with respect to items such as funding, interoperability, communication between state agencies, and access to real-time data. The Alliance strongly encourages that you make the need for interoperable PDMPs a focus of your Subcommittee discussions.
The members of the Alliance believe that the growing public health problem of prescription drug diversion, abuse, and addiction must be confronted and addressed through a collaborative effort by all stakeholders (e.g., regulators, lawmakers, manufacturers, distributors, pharmacies, and physicians) via a multi-faceted approach that includes education, disposal, monitoring, and treatment. This diversion and abuse can tragically deprive those who legitimately need medicines from access to quality care, and threaten the welfare and health of those afflicted by addiction and abuse, as well as those associated with them. For these reasons, we believe a public health focus is necessary to balance the need to curb prescription drug abuse, diversion, overdose and death while simultaneously ensuring that patients have access to the appropriate treatments they need.
We hope that the Alliance can be a resource and partner to your respective Subcommittees as you explore ways to implement solutions to this growing public health problem, and we look forward to engaging with you in this dialogue. For more information regarding the Alliance, you can visit: www.RxAbuseSolutions.org or contact us at info@RxAbuseSolutions.org.
The Alliance to Prevent the Abuse of Medicines