Medical Community Responds to Prescription Drug Abuse

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Pill Popping to the Extreme: Prescription Drug Abuse impacts the home and workplace from Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills to Main Street in small towns across America. The medical community has issued guidelines to monitor adherence to pain management therapies in order to counteract this growing epidemic.

“From over 350,000 results, 61% are not consistent with what is anticipated based on the medications patients are supposed to be taking,” stated Dr. Benjamin Gerson, Medical Director of University Services

Nearly 7 million Americans are abusing prescription drugs – more than those who are abusing cocaine, heroin, hallucinogens, Ecstasy and inhalants combined. Unintentional poisoning deaths involving psychotherapeutic drugs, such as sedative-hypnotics and anti-depressants, grew 84 percent from 1999 to 2004. Every day the exploits of Hollywood stars going to rehab or dying from lethal drug combinations transmit through the airwaves. Clinicians, those prescribing the drugs, have received strong recommendations from the American Pain Society urging random urine drug screens to confirm patients are adhering to their prescribed plan of care. “From over 350,000 results, 61% are not consistent with what is anticipated based on the medications patients are supposed to be taking,” stated Dr. Benjamin Gerson, Medical Director of University Services, a Toxicology Services company, at the Disease Management Managed Care Forum in Orlando.

The Clinical Guidelines made in the Journal of Pain give physicians a way of monitoring a population growing at an alarming rate - Chronic Opioid Therapy (COT) patients. Approximately one out of four Americans has persistent or chronic pain which contributes to 3.8 billion hours of work lost each year. Patients are unaware of the unanticipated side effects which include compromised workplace safety, emergency room visits, and intentional and unintentional suicides. Medical examiners often report multiple drugs in people that died of an overdose. It is often unclear whether a medication(s) death was intentional, and the insurance industry has begun scrutinizing these situations when deciding to pay.

Clinicians can now use urine drug screens as an effective way of documenting treatment compliance, detecting drug diversion, and identifying substance abuse. “Out of the drug screens we’ve reviewed, the most popular comment accompanying results to clinicians states ‘Medication listed not found in urine.’ By identifying patients who are not following their prescribed plan of care we can combat the problem of aberrant drug-related behaviors,” Dr. Gerson commented. The Pain Management Monitoring topic will also be discussed at the upcoming 3rd Annual Pain & Substance Abuse Forum from July 27-28 in Chicago.

Between 1995 and 2005, treatment admissions for dependence on prescription painkillers grew more than 300 percent. By routinely screening patients on Chronic Opioid Therapy the medical community can stall the effects of prescription drug abuse in the United States.

University Services, a physician owned and operated Pennsylvania Corporation was organized in 1967 as a supplier of multi-specialty medical services. The company’s main activities related to toxicology services include design & implementation of substance abuse testing programs, Medical Review Officer Services, and pain management drug screen reviews.

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Crystal Bayawa
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