A recent analysis of “3.9 million de-identified aggregated clinical drug monitoring tests performed by Quest Diagnostics for patients in all 50 states and D.C. between 2011 and 2017” sheds further light on a continuing problem in the US. According to an article in Modern Healthcare reporting on this new data, misuse means having “tests reveal additional drugs (non-prescribed or illicit), different medications than prescribed, or no prescription or illicit drugs.” The misuse of prescription medicine, combined with the use of illegal or unsafe medicine increases the risk of illness or death, and further burdens the health care infrastructure. Drug mixing was the most frequently identified form of misuse found in the report, with the mixing of opioids with benzodiazepines, and fentanyl with heroin identified as the most common and dangerous practices.
Despite the high rate of misuse, the report found declines in the dangerous use of non-prescription opioids, amphetamines and illegal drugs. The amount of prescription opioids given out by doctors also declined between 2016 and 2017. Given the collaborative work in the public and private sectors on addressing the opioid epidemic, this is a promising find – but there is still a long way to go. Individuals with substance use disorders (SUDs) are at increased risk of non-prescribed fentanyl and heroin use, and of those impacted only a small percent seek treatment.
Yet, there are resources for those in need. CSIP and the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids have a range of materials for families including MedicineSafe, a coalition of national and state public and private partners providing expert information and tools for safely managing prescription drugs and opioid addiction. Consumer education and support are essential to turning the tide and keeping our communities safe from the dangers of misusing drugs.
The Center for Safe Internet Pharmacies (CSIP) and our 10 member companies have the shared goal of helping address the growing problem of consumer access to illegitimate pharmaceutical products on the Internet. Continue to read this blog for updates on CSIP’s education, enforcement and information-sharing efforts.