Detective and Pharmacist Offer Unique Insights on Prescription Drug Abuse

The Durham Orange County Medical Society (DOCMS) heard two perspectives on prescription drug abuse at its monthly meeting on Wednesday, June 12. Members delved into the issue, which has gained state and national prominence in recent years and often labeled as a public health crisis.

Ross Barbee, a University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill Police Investigator and Timothy J. Ives, PharmD, MPH, a professor of pharmacy and adjunct professor of medicine at UNC-Chapel Hill shared their experiences and viewpoints on prescription drug abuse. They reported that on the Barbee reported that on the UNC campus as well as many campuses across the United States, one of the biggest problems is abuse of Adderall by students taking it to stay alert.  Students do not perceive it as a problem or even that they are doing anything wrong.  Unlike marijuana, it is difficult to track because it has no odor.  In addition, students are often selling prescriptions.

Dr. Ives put the problem in perspective by reporting that in 2010 there were enough painkillers prescribed in America to medicate each American adult every four hours for one month.  He offered a list of warning signs for patients who may be abusers, including:

  1. Asking for refills of opiods (saying theirs was lost or stolen).
  2. Claiming they are “new to town.”
  3. Calling after hours for controlled prescriptions.
  4. Stating they only get relief from one drug, and it is a controlled substance.
  5. Seeming to know more about pain medications than you do.
  6. Saying they only want to enhance their performance

Unfortunately, there are many barriers to pain management, Ives said, including poor assessment of pain, reluctance to prescribe controlled substances and concern about regulations.

Annual Meeting to Provide Education

The NCMS has taken several steps to help its members learn about the balance between avoiding prescriptions for controlled pain medications and misuse.  The NCMS Board of Directors established the Opioid Task Force to give NCMS members a forum to address physician needs regarding patient prescribing and to address the rising numbers of opioid death rates in North Carolina. In addition, the NCMS has promoted the Controlled Substance Reporting System (CSRS) to its members and encouraged participation, provided CME education at the 2012 NCMS Annual Meeting on how prescribers can help mitigate this crisis and has publicized national prescription “Take Back” events sponsored by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).

To continue to address this public health crisis, the NCMS is pleased to partner with the NC Medical Board and other health care organizations to present a “SCOPE (Safe and Competent Opioid Prescribing Education) of Pain” CME event on Friday, October 25, 2013, to be held in conjunction with the NCMS Annual Meeting and House of Delegates   at the Raleigh Marriott.

Developed by the Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM), this program is funded by an unrestricted educational grant awarded by the manufacturers of ER/LA opioid analgesics. Mark your calendar for October 25, and watch upcoming issues of the Bulletin for details on the schedule, agenda and how to register for this session and for the NCMS Annual Meeting and House of Delegates.


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