Author: Justin Mckibben
When discussing the very real devastation of the opioid crisis some people are still skeptical as to how big of a part prescription opioids play in the problem. While all patients should have access to comprehensive care for conditions relating to severe pain, ignoring the fact that prescription drug abuse is a crucial element of the epidemic is far too careless.
Many states had to face the issue of pill mill clinics and doctor shopping. Now one state, in particular, is now taking massive action in hopes of ending a very serious problem that has only grown over the years. Authorities in North Carolina took a close look at how prescription drugs wind up on the streets.
One of the key factors to narcotic medications hitting the illicit market was doctor shopping.
Doctor Shopping Stats
First, let us explain what doctor shopping is for those unfamiliar with the concept. Innovations in Clinical Neuroscience described the practice of doctor shopping, saying it:
“- entails the scheduling by patients of office visits with multiple clinicians for the same agenda, either for a continuing illness or to procure prescription drugs illicitly. As expected, the explicit definitions in the literature vary considerably, with a significant proportion focusing on a given illness episode.”
Essentially, doctor shopping is when patients visit multiple doctors with the intention of having a prescription given and then filled from each physician, giving them an abundance of medications.
Now in the case of North Carolina, this tactic grew a great deal of momentum as the opioid epidemic spiraled out of control in the past few years. According to WRAL, a Raleigh-based news outlet:
- In 2010, the State Bureau of Investigation says there were 88 doctor shopping cases.
- In 2016, that number rose to 184
- That is a 110% increase in doctor shopping incidents!
According to NBC Charlotte:
- Approximately three people North Carolina die every day in due to drug overdoses.
- Around half of those deaths are due to opioid painkillers.
So now, what moves is North Carolina making to try and fight back?
The Strengthen Opioid Misuse Prevent Act
After realizing just how big of an issue prescription drugs were playing into their current drug problem, officials in North Carolina have decided to put measures in place to try and prevent doctor shopping.
Starting January 1st with the new year, North Carolina enacted a new law, referred to as the Strengthen Opioid Misuse Prevent Act. So what does this new measure do?
- It allows doctors to only give a five day supply of opioids for pain from certain injuries, like broken bones.
- After a surgery, it allows doctors to prescribe a seven day supply.
- Refills can be given as needed, but the first refill will be limited.
North Carolina also gave some thought to protecting those in severe need of pain management resources. The new law does not apply to those with:
Local Authorities Unsure of the Future
The executive director of the North Carolina Board of Pharmacy, Jay Campbell, told reporters that while the action is being taken, it will probably never be completely eliminated. Campbell states,
“We’re certainly hoping that we can radically reduce the scope of drug diversion from pharmacies or any place else. But it is a problem that is never going to go away.”
However, Campbell believes there are certain indications of doctor shopping that pharmacists can keep an eye on as well, such as:
- The patient is visiting a pharmacy far outside their normal location.
- The patient brings in prescriptions from doctors the pharmacy is not familiar with.
Officials trying to stop doctor shopping in the area are asking pharmacists to be alert and ask questions when appropriate. Meanwhile, they are also working to develop other means of drug monitoring, including a system in which North Carolina doctors can register when they prescribe opioids to monitor records and catch patterns of doctor shopping.
There may now be some light at the end of the tunnel. Overdose death rates due to many legal prescription opioids are still rising, but they are rising far more slowly than that of fentanyl and other synthetic opioids according to a CDC report. While it is terrible that the death rates are still increasing, the fact that the rate of progression has slowed noticeably could suggest that many of the recent efforts aimed at curbing widespread over-prescribing practices could be starting to have a positive impact on the extent of the opioid crisis.
Medical Detox for Opioids
An important thing to remember is that for those suffering from substance use disorder or a physical dependency to opioids should always seek safe medical treatment in order to get off these powerful drugs. Opioid abuse presents an inherent risk to the body and the brain. Because of the often difficult and uncomfortable withdrawals, detoxing from opioids is best done in a safe medical environment.
Palm Healthcare Company’s detox facilities will offer a more comprehensive model for recovery from opioid addiction. Medical detox consists of both psychological treatment from professionals for both addiction and co-occurring mental health issues, as well as pharmacological treatment from medical specialists who can decide if there are optional medications to help ease the detox process.
What a medical detox for opioids should always do is provide a trained staff to monitor important vital signs like:
- Respiration levels
- Blood pressure
- Body temperature
- Heart rate
Abruptly discontinuing opioids can be painful or even damaging to the body. Make sure to seek the appropriate help. If you or someone you love is struggling, do not wait. Please call toll-free now. You are not alone.
CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135
(This content is being used for illustrative purposes only; any person depicted in the content is a model)
Author: Justin Mckibben
You may remember back in early 2016 the pharmacy organization Walgreens announced two programs to address key issues in the opioid crisis.
- Safe medical disposal kiosks for unused prescription drugs
- Narcan expansion programs
By the end of 2016, Walgreens had expanded access to the opioid overdose antidote without the requirement of a prescription to 33 states and the District of Columbia. The Narcan opioid overdose antidote, also known by the generic name Naloxone, is a nasal spray that is utilized all over the country as a means to revive someone experiencing an opioid overdose.
Now, this life-saving compound is becoming even more accessible, as Walgreens is announcing the Narcan opioid overdose antidote will now be available at all of its over 8,000 pharmacy locations!
Pharmacies Stepping Up to the State of Emergency
This new move to combat the opioid epidemic comes at a crucial time. The epidemic continues to claim lives every day, with recovery advocates and government officials rallying for more resources to fight the problem.
Today, Thursday, October 26, 2017, the nation is expecting President Donald Trump to officially declare the opioid crisis a public health emergency at a scheduled White House event.
According to Rick Gates, Vice President of Walgreens,
“By stocking Narcan in all our pharmacies, we are making it easier for families and caregivers to help their loved ones by having it on hand in case it is needed.”
The company offers Narcan opioid overdose antidote without a prescription in 45 states and is willing to work with the remaining states to make to include them.
Of course, the fight for more availability of Narcan and Naloxone has been going on for some time. However, it seems as the country is calling for more sweeping action from government officials; pharmacies are taking it as a call to action themselves. Rick Gates went on to say,
“As a pharmacy, we are committed to making Narcan more accessible in the communities we serve.”
Walgreens also says it will inform customers about the Narcan opioid overdose antidote if they receive drugs with more than 50 morphine milligram equivalents (MME). This is actually a recommendation from the CDC.
It isn’t just Walgreens either. CVS pharmacy has expanded access to Narcan and other products that contain naloxone. CVS reportedly has been offering prescription-free naloxone in up to 43 states as of last month. CVS pharmacies have said that its locations “in most communities have naloxone on hand and can dispense it the same day or ordered for the next business day.”
Big Pharma’s Role
Big Pharma wholesaler AmerisourceBergen is also helping in these efforts. AmerisourceBergen is now distributing Narcan demo devices at no cost to Walgreens pharmacists. These demo devices will help with instructing patients on how to administer the medication safely and effectively.
Robert Mauch, Executive Vice President & Group President, Pharmaceutical Distribution & Strategic Global Sourcing for AmerisourceBergen, states,
“At AmerisourceBergen, we strive to provide our customers the highest quality care and support so they can ultimately enhance the lives of patients in their communities,”
“We recognize the important role we play in addressing the opioid epidemic, and our collaboration with Walgreens is another key milestone to supply our customers with access to lifesaving initiatives and emergency medications that can help keep individuals safe across the country.”
Ironically, AmerisourceBergen just so happens to be one of the three largest drug distributors that were mentioned in the recent 60 Minutes interview with ex-DEA agent Joe Rannazzisi. In the segment that has since caused a major uproar, Rabbazzisi said companies including AmerisourceBergen controlled probably 85%- 90% of drugs that went “downstream” and ended up on the streets.
This might not be what Mauch meant by “recognize the important role we play”, but at least it seems like AmerisourceBergen is taking steps to become part of a solution.
Meanwhile, Adapt Pharma, the manufacturer of Narcan Nasal Spray, celebrates this action by Walgreens to expand naloxone and Narcan access. Seamus Mulligan, CEO at Adapt Pharma states,
“This action is an important milestone and we applaud Walgreens initiatives to improve access to Narcan Nasal Spray in communities across the U.S.,”
“This effort, combined with the opportunity for patients and caregivers to obtain Narcan Nasal Spray without an individual prescription in 45 states, is critical in combating this crisis.”
America is working hard to find the right path on the road to recovery from the devastating opioid crisis. It is crucial that we make every possible resource available to help save lives. With opioid overdose killing an estimated 91 people every day, the need for this life-saving medication could not be more evident.
Beyond reversing the effects of an overdose, there is more we need to do. While having access to Narcan and naloxone can help tremendously, we also need to promote recovery and addiction treatment resources. Preservation of life is important, but giving people the help they need to live a happier and healthier life should also be a priority in the fight to overcome the opioid crisis. Palm Partners Recovery Center believes in actively providing the best in innovative and holistic treatment opportunities, to help transform lives. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, we want to help. Please call toll-free now.
CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135
Author: Justin Mckibben
With the opioid epidemic in America there have been a lot of advances in the field of addiction treatment, as well as innovations in prevention and intervention. One of the most useful elements of preserving the lives of thousands of people across the country has been the development and implementation of the opioid overdose antidote Narcan. So many people are impacted by opioid abuse, and so many families and friends to addicts want to help in any way they can to give their loved ones an opportunity at surviving their struggles. A lot of people are still unsure how to obtain some of these life-saving resources, especially when it comes to the overdose antidote.
The truth is, basically anyone can get access to Naloxone or Narcan, with various expansion programs existing for the purpose of providing vital support to the communities afflicted. Also, anyone can be trained on how to use it. There are a few ways to obtain Narcan.
How Do You Get Narcan: What is Narcan/Naloxone
Just to verify, Narcan is the brand name of this life-saving medication. Naloxone is the generic name. Narcan (Naloxone) is used to counteract and reverse the deadly effects of an overdose of opiate drugs such as heroin, Oxycodone,Hydrocodone and others as well.
Naloxone hydrochloride, the scientific name, is a white to slightly off-white powder and is soluble in water. Naloxone Hydrochloride injection is available as a non-preserved sterile solution for intravenous, intramuscular or subcutaneous administration in 1 mg/mL concentration.
Narcan is also supplied as a nasal spray, which provides for a decreased risk factor and makes it easier to administer for many by eliminating needles. In these forms, Naloxone and Narcan expansion has become a very big part of combatting the opioid epidemic, and through many groups advocating for its use, Narcan has become available in many ways.
How Do You Get Narcan: CVS and Walgreens
One way is through pharmacy companies like CVS and Walgreens.
Back in late 2015, the pharmacy company CVS announced it would be selling the opioid overdose antidote naloxone without a prescription in 14 states. Then in early 2016 CVS announced they would be expanding the program to 20 states by the end of the year. Of course, pharmacy boards in each state can make the decisions about offering Naloxone or Narcan without a prescription, but CVS has worked to further grant access to people all over the nation. You can look online to see if it is available in your area.
Also in early 2016 the pharmacy organization Walgreens announced two programs to address key issues in the opioid crisis.
- Safe medical disposal kiosks for unused prescription drugs
- Narcan expansion
By the end of 2016 Walgreens had expanded naloxone access without the requirement of a prescription to 33 states and the District of Columbia. Walgreens also continues to express the intention to further expand these programs. A quick online search you let you know if it is currently available without a prescription at a Walgreens near you.
How Do You Get Narcan: Other Options
In truth there are a lot of different ways to get Narcan, depending on where you are. To name a few:
You can contact a family physician in order to gain access to a Naloxone or Narcan kit, and should even be able to get training on how to utilize it.
State or Local Health Department
Your state or local health department should be able to provide you with all the information about any Opioid Overdose Prevention Programs in your area that provide the resources and training for the overdose antidote.
Harm Reduction Organizations
There are clinics, community centers and other harm reduction organizations all over the country that work to provide extensive support, resources and information. The Harm Reduction Coalition is America’s national harm reduction network operating overdose prevention programs for years.
The Overdose Prevention Alliance (OPA)
The OPA is a home for information and debate on drug overdose worldwide. It operates with the goal of cutting overdose and mortality rates. The OPA aims to collect and document major issues in overdose worldwide, encourage overdose prevention initiatives. Finding this resource could also be a huge help.
How Do You Get Narcan: Making a Difference
In the end, there are so many avenues someone can take to obtain this crucial tool in the fight against opioid overdose. Some community leaders even organize local workshops where they invite the public to come and get training on how to use Naloxone or Narcan. Some colleges even provide Naloxone kits to students, and many of both kinds of programs are free of charge.
The goal with any program is to try and save lives. At the end of the day that is what it comes down to; saving lives. Every bit of these resources makes a difference.
Still, beyond being revived from an overdose; beyond having access to the opioid overdose antidote is the need for safe and effective treatment. Having a second chance means using it. Keeping someone alive after a nearly fatal overdose is a huge feat, but there has to be more to helping someone, and that is where holistic drug and alcohol treatment programs make the biggest difference.
If you or someone you love have survived an opioid overdose and don’t know what to do next, do not hesitate to get help. If you or someone you love is struggling, please call toll-free now. We want to help.
CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135