During the session, Cooper talked about the necessity of all health care and law enforcement teams to work tougher to eradicate this growing problem. He also highlighted initiatives that are currently being implemented to address the prescription drug abuse epidemic. These initiatives include:
- Law enforcement is acting to enforce stronger penalties for prescription drug abuse. It is now a felony to use, sell or prescribe prescription drugs other than in direct adherence to the label.
- In-service training for law enforcement in North Carolina is being implemented so that law enforcement officials can learn about prescription drug abuse.
- More strict requirements are being implemented for presenting photo ID when obtaining schedule II drugs from a pharmacy.
- There is more support of Operation Medicine Drop, where patients can safely dispose of unused, expired and surplus prescription drugs. There are currently 30 permanent drop boxes in place.
- More education initiatives are being created to encourage parents to put prescription medications in locked areas in the home. To date, 75 percent of young people obtain prescription drugs from their home with only 23 percent of parents talking to their children about the dangers of prescription drugs.
During his closing remarks, Cooper urged physicians to speak with their patients about the importance of keeping medication safe. He also encouraged physicians to participate in the North Carolina Controlled Substances Reporting System available through the NC Division of Mental Health, Developmental Disabilities and Substance Abuse Services.
Scott Kirby, MD, medical director of the North Carolina Medical Board, also spoke on prescription drug abuse problems in North Carolina. Echoing Roy Cooper’s comments, Dr. Kirby said, “A shared solution will benefit everyone and provide better outcomes in this ongoing battle.” He acknowledged that there are many chronic pain patients that require careful, ongoing treatments and appropriate pain relief. “Still, these patients must be properly educated on keeping their medications safe.”
Fred Brason, President/CEO of Project Lazarus, who spoke at the session, focused on how a community-based opioid overdose prevention model, such as Project Lazarus can help reduce this growing problem by working at the grass roots level. By linking with programs and resources such as Project Lazarus, physicians can play a vital role in reducing prescription drug abuse.
NCMS Vice-Speaker and member of the NCMS Opioid Task Force, Palmer Edwards, MD, DFAPA, monitored the panel.
Cooper says prescription drug abuse now epidemic (10-28-12, News & Observer)