Sue pharmaceutical industry for giving misleading information. More than 40 states have banded together in an investigation of whether makers and distributors misrepresented the dangers and benefits of prescription opioids.
Crack down on distributors that feed the black market. Distributors are required by law to report suspicious orders for narcotics. One example: in Kermit, W.V., with just 392 people, a pharmacy ordered nine million hydrocodone pills over two years. After the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) hit several big companies with fines, Congress passed a law that gutted its authority, says Joe Rannazzisi, the DEA division head who pursued those cases. He lost his authority, too.
After he told his story to The Washington Post and “Sixty Minutes,” Rep. Tom Marino from Pennsylvania, who sponsored the law along with Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee, withdrew from consideration to be the new drug czar in the Trump administration. (In October, President Trump directed the Department of Human Services to declare the opioid crisis a public emergency.)
Crack down on “pill mills.” Rannazzisi reports that pain management clinics distributing painkillers popped up near entrance and exit ramps to highways. States can require the clinics to be licensed and submit to inspections, including unannounced inspections if there are complaints, the National Governors Association (NGA) suggests.
Strengthen the prescription drug monitoring program. The states keep electronic records on painkiller prescriptions to prevent people from “doctor shopping.” The NGA advises states to make these records easier for doctors to use. Analysts could examine the data to identify patients with possible addictions. The programs could also send reports to licensing boards and law enforcement if it reveals suspect doctors or clinics.
West Virginia and Missouri have begun to collect data on overdoses, and Rhode Island and Kentucky have passed bills that allow warrant-less searches of the prescription data to support cases against providers.
April 02, 2020
Christopher Nystuen, MD, MBA