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Health Care

High-Powered Alliance to Tackle Prescription-Drug Abuse

The new group brings industry organizations together for the first time to address the epidemic.

(Miguel Medina/AFP/GettyImages)

photo of Sophie Novack
February 28, 2014

Some of the biggest players in the pharmaceutical supply chain have teamed up to find solutions to the growing problem of prescription-drug abuse.

The Alliance to Prevent the Abuse of Medicines is composed of the American Medical Association, CVS Caremark, Teva Pharmaceuticals, Cardinal Health, the Healthcare Distribution Management Association, and Prime Therapeutics.

The group touts membership involvement across the supply chain—from manufacturer to distributor to pharmacy to physician—as key to the success of its mission.

 

"In order to truly move the needle on an issue as complex and massive as prescription-drug abuse, there has to be cooperation and input along the entire pharmaceutical supply chain," Alliance spokesperson Danielle Hagen wrote in an email. "The alliance has come together to provide just that. Each member organization recognizes the need for a comprehensive public health approach to prescription drug abuse, and each comes to the table with valuable expertise."

Prescription-drug abuse has been classified as an epidemic by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. According to data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, initiation rates for nonmedical pain reliever use are second only to marijuana, with 2 million or more new users every year since 2002—500,000 of whom have never used another illicit drug.

Prescription-drug abuse is difficult to tackle because it involves many different players and moving parts along the drug supply chain. Thus far, piecemeal legislation that addresses parts of the problem has largely been ineffective.

The Alliance hopes to take a broader look at the prescription-drug market and work with legislators on Capitol Hill to find more comprehensive solutions.

The group plans to maintain a national policy perspective, while also working with state lawmakers. The first focus is on improving the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program, which varies a great deal from state to state. The Alliance sent a letter to the National Governors Association that was shared at the winter meeting last week, calling for a more robust and interoperable system of PDMPs. The group received a positive response from those governors present, according to a spokesperson.

The Alliance is still working through solutions on what will likely be a long-term effort, and declined to give further details on other possible proposals.

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