Six medical organizations release plan to prevent drug abuse

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COLUMBIA - Major health care provider groups in Missouri this week released a 10-step action plan to reduce painkiller abuse. They hope the recommendations will turn into state adopted guidelines. 

A study done by the Missouri Hospital Association found hospital treatment for opioid painkillers increased 137 percent in Missouri over the last 10 years. The Midwest sees a higher number of opioid abuse/misuse than other parts of the country. 

The action plan focuses on limiting when doctors should prescribe narcotics. It also recommends more education about prescription drugs and more follow ups after a person is prescribed a certain medication and encourages doctors to look at different alternatives than addictive narcotics. 

Dave Dillon, the spokesperson for the Missouri Hospital Association, said the goal is not "prohibition" of narcotics, but more guidelines for the medical community when dealing with addictive drugs. 

"Coming up with a balance that isn't too prescriptive on doctors' ability to use their judgment is the challenge we are currently having," Dillon said.

Erica Hopkins-Wadlow, pharmacist at D&H Drugstore, said she thinks something must be done about the current way prescription drugs are being prescribed. 

"At least on a daily basis, I'm looking at a prescription and trying to make a decision if this prescription is valid or somebody is trying to doctor shop," Hopkins-Wadlow said. "You want people in pain to have pain medication. I think that the guidelines could make some physicians upset because they don't want to feel singled out like they can't prescribe it cause they think they are going to get in trouble."

Dillon said the idea for the new guidelines did not come from the current prescription drug monitoring program debate (PDMP). Currently, Missouri is the only state without a PDMP system. Opponents of the system argue it creates privacy issues.

"The fact that we don't have a PDMP does complicate the matters. If we had a database, we would have a better chance to prevent misuse and overdoses," Dillon said.