Your medicine may come with a new side effect -- financial pain. Prescription-drug spending is growing at a phenomenal rate according to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). And, the sickest Americans are bearing the biggest burden. Some 43 percent of those in fair or poor health say it’s somewhat or very difficult to afford their medications, and 37 percent say they’ve skipped out on filling a prescription because of cost, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF).
In a move that is widely supported by both political parties, President Trump declared the opioid epidemic a national emergency. Doing so will allow for additional resources to be used toward fighting the opioid crisis, which could include expanding treatment facilities and supplying first responders with the anti-overdose remedy, naloxone.
An estimated 80 percent of abused controlled substances are obtained by prescription and legally dispensed to the abuser, an abuser’s friend or a family member. In many cases, opioids are obtained through so-called “doctor shopping” — seeing multiple doctors and obtaining a prescription from each.
E-prescribing is moving to the forefront of healthcare IT thanks to the benefits it brings to patients, physician workflow efficiency, and pharmacies. In fact, 90 percent of pharmacies in the United States now accept electronic prescriptions and 70 percent of physicians use e-prescribing, according to the Office of the National Coordinator of Health IT. With this level of adoption, the industry is well on its way toward enjoying the patient safety, efficiency and cost savings benefits associated with e-prescribing.
A recent article in the Specialty Pharmacy Times stated that medication adherence is a constant struggle for pharmacists, especially those treating patients with conditions that require high-touch, high-cost specialty drugs. Missing just a single dose of medication may cause adverse health events or cost additional dollars spent on these patients. Preventing adverse events and extra costs are an important goal of specialty pharmacists.
In a recent AMA Wire e-Newsletter, the AMA outlined their efforts to eliminate the barriers to implementing electronic prescriptions of controlled substances. The association said the problem remains a significant and perplexing burden for physicians. The AMA vowed to continue to advocate before relevant federal and state agencies and legislative bodies for elimination of cumbersome, confusing and burdensome requirements relating to electronic transmission of physicians’ controlled substance prescriptions to pharmacies.
A recent study by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and posted on their web site highlighted the fact that most U.S. studies of national trends in medical and nonmedical use of prescription opioids have focused on adults. Given the limited understanding in these trends among adolescents, the AAP examined national trends in the medical and nonmedical use of prescription opioids among high school seniors between 1976 and 2015.
A study published by Penn State University revealed that overdose deaths from prescription opioids in the U.S. quadrupled from 1999 to 2015, reaching 22,000 in 2015. This increase has been fueled by a dramatic rise in the amount of opioids being prescribed, creating a vast supply of drugs at high risk for misuse. Prescribers, therefore, are a vital link in addressing the current epidemic of overdose deaths and substance use disorders. The challenge is to develop and implement systems that help prescribers identify potential cases of misuse or diversion, while still allowing appropriate prescribing of opioids for pain control.
Electronic-prescribing (e-prescribing) is one part of the larger move to increased utilization of health information technologies (HITs). Along with other HITs such as electronic health records, telehealth, and health information exchanges, e-prescribing is seen as a tool for improving patient-centered care. The potential benefits of e-prescribing are extended to prescribers, payers, pharmacies, and patients. In general, the benefits of e-prescribing fall into the following categories: patient safety, improved prescribing, efficiency/workflow, and cost savings.
Medication adherence is a crucial component in the treatment of chronic diseases. In the elderly, clinicians are faced with a unique set of problems associated with adherence for which they may not be adequately trained. The different factors affecting medication adherence in the elderly are many: patient, medication, health care providers, healthcare system, and socioeconomic factors.