Doctors Take Back Responsibility

Caduceus_largeThe rise of prescription drug abuse is a bit of an embarrassment for the medical community. The reason is simple – prescription drugs are manufactured as part of the legitimate medical supply chain. These drugs aren’t being grown in Columbia or the fields of Afghanistan; they are made (usually in the US) and only then diverted into illegal uses. MDs are especially aware of one of the routes – forged or misused prescriptions.

In Georgia, the professional medical community, led by the Medical Association of Georgia (GMA), is taking action. The new initiative, dubbed “Think About It,” kicked off last month in Gainsville. The purpose is to regain control over what has become a pipeline to the substance abusing community with prescription fraud, theft and misuse of addictive drugs heading the list.

The strategy to take back responsibility will combine legislative efforts with education – for both the medically trained and the community at large.

This is said to be a new approach – medical organizations dealing with what amounts to a corruption of the medical system. While policing and regulatory agencies have long sought stricter standards, the medical community often rebels. Doctors want the freedom to treat their patients as they see fit and the practice of medicine is largely one of self-policing. In this initiative, the GMA is actively partnering with the regulatory and enforcement bodies.

Also on the agenda was a push for prescription drug disposal sites – somewhere old medicines can be turned in without penalty or question.

Certainly theft will still be a problem, but eliminating the other forms of diversion will certainly help reduce the amount of prescription drugs available for abuse. Some of the common ways Rx drugs get to the streets are:

  • Fraud – an outright forgery of a doctor’s prescription.
  • Over Prescribing – a patient sees more than one doctor for the same problem or gets their doctor to write excessive quantities of a desirable drug.
  • Pill Mills – A clinic set up specifically to “turn and burn” – running patients through knowing that they are just trying to get narcotics without regard for actual medical condition.
  • Theft – This can be either from a pharmacy directly or from someone’s medicine cabinet.

This list isn’t comprehensive, but it should be obvious that doctors who are aware of the problem of diversion and willing to act to prevent it will have an impact for the good.

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