A coalition of stakeholders in the prescription drug supply chain, from manufacturers to pharmacies to physicians, Wednesday released comprehensive public health-focused policy recommendations to guide lawmakers’ efforts to curb misuse and abuse of such medicines across the nation. 

The coalition, the Alliance to Prevent the Abuse of Medicines (APAM), released the recommendations at a roundtable attended by Rep. Joe Pitts, R-Pa., who chairs the U.S. House of Representatives Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee, and the subcommittee’s ranking member Rep. Frank Pallone, Jr., D-N.J. 

The discussion explored the importance of preserving legitimate access to medications for treating acute pain and managing chronic pain while also reversing the public health crisis of prescription drug abuse. Representatives from each of APAM’s executive member organizations spoke to the importance of a public-health approach to balance these two pressing needs.

“The whole health system plays a role,” said Todd Askew, director of the division of congressional affairs at the AMA.

The coalition’s nine policy recommendations include:

  • Taking a public health approach to preventing the abuse of medicines
  • Improving the effectiveness of prescription drug monitoring programs
  • Educating consumers, patients and the public on prescription drug abuse
  • Enhancing oversight of controlled substances

“Prescription drug monitoring programs need to be interoperable, between states, as well as timely,” said Askew. “If a tool isn’t viable, it won’t be used and it won’t do anyone any good.”

Last month, the AMA sent a letter of support for the Stop Overdose Stat Act of 2013, federal legislation that supports community-based efforts to prevent drug overdose. The AMA also has worked with several national organizations to address prescription drug abuse and diversion. 

Visit the AMA’s Web page on combating prescription drug abuse and diversion to learn about the AMA’s work with state medical associations, federal agencies and lawmakers to stop prescription drug abuse and preserve access to treatment for the patients who need it.

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