Issue Spotlight: Opioid Abuse

Date of Publication (July 31, 2015)

Opioid abuse. It’s a serious public health problem that has reached crisis levels across the United States, with 44 people dying each day from overdose of opioids, and many more becoming addicted. In the last five years, admissions for opioid abuse treatment in Iowa have tripled; 44 Iowans died from opioid overdoses in 2013, up from 16 in 2004. 

One tool available to monitor patients’ use of prescription pain medications and assist in determining appropriate treatment options is Iowa’s Prescription Monitoring Program (PMP). This voluntary health care tool is operated by the Iowa Board of Pharmacy (IBP) and allows prescribers to query a patient seeking controlled substances to determine whether they also have active prescriptions from other providers. The IBP recently expanded PMP access to allow a prescriber to designate up to three clinical staff to access the system on behalf of the prescriber, a helpful move to maximize clinical workflow and expand PMP usage. Currently, PMP use by prescribers or a designated staff is voluntary, however, the Iowa Board of Medicine has in recent years sought legislation to mandate usage as is the case in some other states. All pharmacists in Iowa are required to utilize the PMP to report any prescriptions they fill for Schedule II, III, or IV controlled substances. 

Public Policy Approach: Naloxone

IMS continues to seek measures to help address the opioid abuse problem in our state. This past legislative session, IMS sought comprehensive legislation to expand access to the opioid antagonist Naloxone. The IMS-drafted measure would allow physicians to prescribe the medication to third party laypersons, enact legal protections for friends and family members who administer the medication, and create Good Samaritan protections for an individual who calls for help in an overdose situation, remains on the scene, and fully cooperates with law enforcement. The bill passed the Senate by a wide bipartisan margin, but stalled in the House over concerns with the legal protections created by the bill and with amendment language added in House committee that would mandate insurance coverage for abuse deterrent formulation medications. Forty states have enacted some sort of Naloxone legislation, with 28 enacting Good Samaritan protections similar to those included in the Iowa bill. IMS is continuing conversations ahead of next legislative session in hopes of securing final passage of this life-saving legislation. 

Additional Opioid Abuse Prevention & CME Resources

Opioid Abuse Prevention Handout
AMA Opioid Abuse Prevention Resources
IMS Chronic Pain Management CME


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