Working Together to Prevent Prescription Drug Abuse
June 26th, 2017

Alliance to Prevent the Abuse of Medicines Urges Nation’s Governors to Improve Prescription Drug Abuse Monitoring Programs

WASHINGTON, DC (May 6, 2015) – In an open letter sent to governors of all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and territories, the Alliance to Prevent the Abuse of Medicines applauded state leaders on their commitment to tackling prescription drug abuse and urged their focus on the importance of fully funded, interoperable Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs (PDMPs).

The letter emphasized the need for each state to develop and operate a robust and efficiently deployed PDMP that is available at the point-of-care with up-to-date patient information and integrated into prescriber and dispenser workflow. The Alliance also offered its services as a resource and partner in addressing the deadly public health issue of prescription drug abuse and diversion.

In 2014, the group included PDMPs as part of its released nine legislative concepts, which address prevention, education, early intervention, drug monitoring, treatment, and safe disposal. The Alliance followed up with congressional briefings, engagement with the Obama Administration, and a meeting of stakeholders at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in February that attracted the bipartisan participation of Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker, Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe, Ohio Senator Rob Portman, and Rhode Island Senator Sheldon Whitehouse.

The full text of the letter is included below:

Dear Governor:

We write to you as the Alliance to Prevent the Abuse of Medicines – but individually as among the largest players in the prescription drug supply chain – to initiate and, in some instances, continue, a dialogue with you regarding prescription drug diversion, misuse, and addiction. 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 public health problem, we know that for you it is very local and crippling to your communities.

The Alliance to Prevent the Abuse of Medicines, comprised of the American Medical Association (AMA), Cardinal Health, CVS Health, Healthcare Distribution Management Association (HDMA), kaléo, Millennium Health, Prime Therapeutics, and Teva Pharmaceuticals, has been working to raise awareness of the issue of prescription drug abuse, partner with legislators to craft concrete and achievable solutions, and serve as a resource for policymakers and the media. As the only coalition focused on this issue that includes representation across the domestic supply chain, the Alliance offers a comprehensive perspective to addressing the prevalence of prescription drug abuse.

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 were encouraged by an April 6, 2015, letter from U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell to each of you expressing her commitment to this public health issue and outlining her strategic priorities to address the problem and hold a second opioid summit this summer. We hope that those who manufacture, distribute, prescribe, dispense, and treat will be included in that dialogue. While the Alliance focuses primarily on federal solutions to diversion and abuse, the complexity and interplay between federal and state policy in addressing this epidemic is undisputed. Please know that the Alliance stands ready to serve as an industry-led resource in any way we can to find solutions to this problem.

A central component of the Alliance’s discussions to date has been the need for each state and territory to fully develop and operate a robust and efficiently deployed Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs (PDMPs). 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, an 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 data demonstrating the benefits of fully functional PDMPs to help with clinical decision-making and other areas, there is wide variation in the states and territories with respect to funding, interoperability, communication between agencies, real-time data and other important elements. The Alliance strongly encourages that you make the need for interoperable PDMPs a focus of your analysis. In addition, the Alliance supports current congressional efforts seeking full funding for state and territory PDMP programs.

We thank you for your ongoing commitment to identifying solutions at the community level to address the growing problem of prescription drug diversion and abuse, and strongly encourage your continued focus on the expansion and deployment of a robust PDMP.

We hope that the Alliance can be a resource and partner to each of you, 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.

Thank you.

Sincerely,

The Alliance to Prevent the Abuse of Medicines