State Drug Control Reports on Efforts to Curb Drug Diversion
Data helps prescribers, pharmacists and law enforcement to take swift action
“Connecticut is fortunate to have this health care and enforcement tool in place to help reduce the misuse, diversion and abuse of controlled substances,” the Department’s Drug Control Director John Gadea, R.Ph. said. ‘Since implementation in 2008, the Prescription Monitoring Program has enabled prescribers and pharmacists to utilize a web-based application as a health care tool for providing better care and reducing the potential for patient addiction and overdose.”
The system also provides law enforcement with a time saving tool to address the issue of controlled substance diversion. The secure web program collects prescription data for Schedule II through Schedule V drugs. Database reports help prescribers and pharmacists quickly spot potential signs of drug abuse among their patients and clients, such as:
• Forging prescriptions
• Altering prescriptions
• Doctor shopping
• Calling in prescriptions
• Stealing blank prescription forms
Having this knowledge enables health care professionals to assess a patient’s care, possibly discuss drug abuse concerns with a patient who shows patterns of abuse, and as warranted, educating and encouraging the patient to seek the treatment needed if they have a substance abuse problem.
“One study indicated that more than 1.5 million American kids report that they’ve abused prescription drugs, and one in three say that they have a friend using prescription pain relievers to get high,” Gadea said. “Unless we want to abandon a large segment of our youth to serious abuse and addiction, we have to use every measure possible to halt the diversion and misuse of these highly-addictive drugs.”
In addition to the Prescription Monitoring Program, also discussed today were the state’s efforts to help consumers secure medications in the home and to remove unused medications from the home in secure and environmentally appropriate ways.
Securing prescription medication in the home has unfortunately become an adolescent health concern. Medications in the home should be treated as “valuables” and secured in a lock box or other secure container to prevent their theft. Stealing drugs from home is the most popular method among adolescents for acquiring these products.
“Connecticut residents have several options for safely removing medications from their home environment,” Gadea said. “The easiest and most effective is disposing the medications in everyday trash, after rendering the medicine safe and non-recoverable, by dissolving it in hot water and adding some non-appetizing substance like used coffee grounds or kitty litter.“ Gadea said this mixture should then be placed in a small plastic container with a lid, taped closed, and put out with the weekly curbside trash. All towns in the state except one incinerate their trash, which is the preferred method as per the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection.
As second option is a Drug Take Back program, which is normally run on a town by town basis. The Department has been involved in standardizing the various Drug Take Back programs taking place in the State. These local programs provide a safe, environmentally friendly way for families to remove unused medications from their home, as well as a venue for community involvement, public awareness and education.
Drop-boxes are the third option, recently introduced in order to create a more ongoing, sustainable method for municipalities to help residents dispose of unwanted medication. The Department and several Connecticut towns recently introduced and standardized this method as part of a pilot program. Participation in a drop-box effort is open to any community through its local police department.
The federal Drug Enforcement Administration-sponsored drug take back program also provides another drug disposal option to communities. This annual event has been offered to authorized communities, and although different than community-based drug take back programs, it also provides a process for communities to remove unwanted controlled substances in an environmentally friendly manner.
Tomorrow, October 29th, is the day set aside for the Drug Enforcement Administration-sponsored national drug take back initiative. Many Connecticut communities will be participating. To find out where drug collection is taking place, visit: www.deadiversion.usdoj.gov/drug_disposal/takeback
“More than 1.5 million American kids report that they’ve abused prescription drugs, and one in three say that they have a friend using prescription pain relievers to get high,” Gadea said. “Unless we want to abandon a large segment of our youth to serious abuse and addiction, we have to use every measure possible to halt the diversion and misuse of these highly-addictive drugs.”
“We appreciate Senator Blumenthal’s attention to this critical issue, and we will continue our work at local, state and federal levels to formulate and implement meaningful and effective solutions to the issue of drug diversion,” Gadea said.