In response to Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ new opioid task force targeting drug manufacturers and distributors, the pharmaceutical industry has launched a national education and awareness initiative.
By Jim Chrzan, Healthcare Packaging Magazine
It’s no secret that in the past year, drug makers and distributors have come under heavy attack by the Washington Post, New York Times, CBS’s 60 Minutes, and other media outlets detailing the extent of our nation’s opioid addiction crisis.
More than 400 lawsuits have been filed against various players in the drug supply chain, with litigants hoping to recover the high costs of treating and dealing with the epidemic. Judge Dan Polster of the Northern District of Ohio is trying to resolve the more than 400 federal lawsuits brought by cities, counties and Native American tribes. A lot of money is at stake.
On February 6, 2018, the Healthcare Distribution Alliance (HDA) announced the formation of a collaborative effort between supply chain partners, healthcare, and public health organizations to combat the opioid problem.
In addition to HDA, which provided the initial funding, other members include the Caregiver Action Network (CAN), Mental Health America (MHA), National Alliance of State Pharmacy Associations (NASPA), National Council on Patient Information and Education (NCPIE) and the PA Foundation.
“AAOA has put tools and resources in place to help address the opioid abuse crisis by encouraging safe use, storage and disposal among patients and their families. Additionally, AAOA will convene discussions with community partners to create awareness, share information, foster new approaches and ultimately reduce prescription opioid abuse and misuse,” said HDA in a press release.
“It starts with education,” said John M. Gray, President and CEO, HDA. “By combining our voices and leveraging our networks, together we can help reduce the misuse, overuse and abuse of prescription opioids.
“Our industry recognizes there isn’t one simple solution that will address the opioid abuse epidemic. That is why we are bringing together a diverse set of partners that are strongly committed to educating, raising awareness and implementing solutions to ensure patients know how to safely and properly access, use and dispose opioids. Through AAOA, we will create and distribute educational materials that are tailored for each unique part of the healthcare community — from patients and caregivers, to pharmacists to prescribers.”
Post-surgical middle-age women are most vulnerable to opioid abuse
According to Doug Long, VP of Industry Relations for IQVIA, women ages 40-59 are prescribed more opioids than any other age group and receive twice the number of opioid prescription as their male counterpoints. Long shared these findings at the Healthcare Distribution Alliance (HDA)conference in Austin, TX March 4-7, 2018.
Surgery is the gateway for potential misuse of opioids. Colectomy (full or partial removal of the large intestine) and knee replacement surgery put patients most at risk for becoming persistent opioid users.
Gen X women (ages 35-44) undergoing knee replacement surgery had the highest rate of opioid use.
In addition, Long told the audience that highest rate of opioid prescriptions are concentrated in rural areas, primarily in the South.