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Feds Analyze, Target Rx Painkiller Abuse

MedPageToday, 2012

Most people who misuse prescription painkillers get their stash from friends and family, government researchers said.
In an updated analysis of data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 68% of new users and 66% of occasional users got their pills from a friend or relative, Gil Kerlikowske, director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), said during a teleconference.
On the other hand, most chronic users of painkillers were prescribed the drugs by doctors or bought them from a dealer, the Internet, or a friend or relative.
The analysis was released in conjunction with this year's , to be held this Saturday in collaboration with local law enforcement agencies at 5,000 collection sites across the country.
Kerlikowske said preliminary data show that prescription drug abuse has fallen among young people: "That's an important trend that we hope is a harbinger for declines in abuse," he said during the briefing.
But the most recent official data show that drug overdose deaths surpassed car crash deaths in 2009, and these deaths were driven largely by prescription drugs -- the vast majority being opioid painkillers, according to Ileana Arias, PhD, deputy director of the CDC.
Kerlikowske and Arias were joined on the press call by FDA commissioner Margaret Hamburg, MD, and DEA administrator Michele Leonhart to provide an update the various initiatives each had taken to combat the nation's prescription drug abuse problems.
Kerlikowske said 48 states now have prescription drug monitoring programs (PDMPs) "online or coming online," up from 43 at this time last year.
All of the agencies placed a heavy emphasis on patient and physician education on the use and distribution of prescription drugs.
The most developed of these is the FDA's risk evaluation and mitigation strategy (REMS) for long-acting opioids, in which pharmaceutical manufacturers were required to fund development by medical education companies of educational programs on safe prescribing of their products.
A blueprint of the basic outline and core messages of that education was issued last November and is open for public comment, an FDA spokesperson said.