What is and Isn’t being done to stop the opioid epidemic

3 actions that aren’t being taken to stop the opioid epidemic

#1 Action Not Being Taken to Stop the Opioid Epidemic – Government action

Government is not doing enough to end the opioid epidemic, according to a CNN article interviewing Patrick Kennedy, who is on the US president’s opioid commission.

According to CNN, the work of the US president’s opioid commission is a “charade” and a “sham”:

“This and the administration’s other efforts to address the epidemic are tantamount to reshuffling chairs on the Titanic,” said Patrick Kennedy. “The [president’s] emergency declaration has accomplished little because there’s no funding behind it. You can’t expect to stem the tide of a public health crisis that is claiming over 64,000 lives per year without putting your money where your mouth is.”

#2 Action Not Being Taken to Stop the Opioid Epidemic – Use of alternative pain therapy

According to Fierce HealthCare, a program aimed at encouraging the use of alternative pain therapy has resulted in a significant decrease in the amount of opioids prescribed:

“A Colorado pilot aimed at encouraging emergency providers to use more alternatives to opioids led to significant decreases in opioid prescribing since its launch last year. 

“The 10 pilot participants reduced opioid administration by 36% compared to the same time period in 2016, a reduction of 35,000 individual opioid administrations. In tandem, administrations of non-opioid alternatives increased by 31.4%. 

#3 Action Not Being Taken to Stop the Opioid Epidemic – Holding the drug manufacturers responsible

Purdue Pharmaceuticals and other drug manufacturers have “built their empire with the lives of hundreds of thousands” and need to be held responsible for the opioid epidemic, according to photographer Nan Goldin, who has established a non-profit Prescription Addiction Intervention Now to fund addiction treatment and education

3 actions that are being taken to stop the opioid epidemic

#1 action being taken to stop the opioid epidemic – collect incidence data on respiratory compromise

In Utah, a Senate resolution aims to address post-operative deaths related to opioids by collecting data and formulating best practices to avoid these deaths.

The resolution is in response to the actions by Yvonne and Greg Gardner, who have been advocating for research into opioids’ fatal effects on breathing, after their 21-year old son, Stewart, died after being prescribed opioids following a tonsillectomy:

“Dr. Michael Catten, the ear, nose and throat specialist who performed Stewart’s tonsillectomy and prescribed opioids to handle the resulting pain, was rocked by his patient’s sudden passing. After examining the details surrounding Stewart’s death, Catten has previously said, he was alarmed as he concluded that the opioid he had prescribed him likely caused the young man’s sudden respiratory failure.”

#2 action being taken to stop the opioid epidemic – engage pharmacists in the fight

Pharmacist can play a unique role in stopping the opioid epidemic. As Brittany Johnson, PharmD writes in her article, “Pharmacists’ Role in the Management of Perioperative Analgesia:”

“Pharmacists’ specialized training in pharmacotherapy makes them uniquely suited to effectively manage a patient’s pain, which often requires a combination of adjuvant therapy and opioids.”

On February 1, the Physician-Patient Alliance for Health & Safety will be releasing a clinical education podcast with Steven Meisel, PharmD, who is Patient Safety Expert at the IHI (the Institute for Healthcare Improvement) and is also Director of Medication Safety at Fairview Health Services in Minneapolis. Steve will be talking what hospital pharmacists can do to prevent opioid-related adverse events and patient deaths. Hospital pharmacists receive orders to fill prescriptions for opioids from units and doctors throughout the hospital, so pharmacists are in a unique position to prevent potential adverse events from occurring throughout the healthcare facility. To be notified of the podcast’s release, please sign up at the PPAHS YouTube channel by clicking here.

#3 action that should taken to stop the opioid epidemic – consider the impact on patients of opioid-limiting legiations

Legislation to limit opioid prescriptions is moving swiftly through the political process. However, the impact that this may have on patients may not have been adequately considered:

“We get a lot of really badly injured patients,” Dr. Hank Hutchinson, medical director of orthopedic trauma at Tallahassee Memorial Hospital, told lawmakers. “I think putting a strict day limit on prescriptions is really bad for our patients.”




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