At the beginning of 2016, President Obama made a commitment to invest $1.1 billion to help address the prescription opioid abuse and heroin use epidemic but what is the status of the fight against opioid at the start of 2017? Opioid and heroin addiction is destructive to the core of community wellness. The addiction destroys lives and tears apart families and communities alike. In 2014, more than 28,000 people died from opioid overdoses nearly 900 died in Maryland. It is clear communities can no longer ignore this public health emergency. With additional government funding states could fund more prevention and treatment programs to stop this epidemic in its tracks.
In 2016 House Republicans joined with Democrats to pass several bills to address the opioid crisis, but none of these bills provided the essential funding that partners on the frontlines of this crisis need. More can be done and must be done. That is why the Opioid and Heroin Abuse Crisis Investment Act was introduced to provide more than $1 billion in new federal resources to combat the causes and effects of the opioid epidemic, including $930 million to expand access to medication-assisted treatment in every state and $50 million to expand substance use treatment capacity. This epidemic has become a runaway train barreling through every family and every community in its path and the stakes are high.
July 2016, the Senate passed the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA) with sweeping bipartisan support. This was an important and meaningful step in the nation’s efforts to address its prescription opioid and heroin public health crisis. The House of Representatives passed CARA with an overwhelming 407-5 vote. The Senate followed suit with a near unanimous vote of 92-2. The bill will fund grants for treatment expansion for opioid use disorder through recovery networks, strengthen state-based prescription drug monitoring programs, and increase the availability of opioid overdose reversal drugs.
Also there are provisions to provide services for pregnant and postpartum women and monitor access to treatment for veterans. The legislation also requires a task force to identify best practices for pain management and encourages new research on this topic. But the association and social workers must continue to ensure that funding is sustained for the activities outlined in CARA. As The White House noted in its response to CARA’s passage, 78 Americans die every day from opioid overdose and states are in need of dedicated funding sources to provide adequate access to treatment and support services like the Coalition to Stop Opioid Overdose, the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
What will it take to overcome the Opioid Epidemic?
The opioid epidemic is a major problem due to inadequate packaging because Medicare and payers are being short-sighted. Today, all CVS, Rite Aid and other major pharmacies have a preventive solution they are not getting paid to carry out because Medicare and payers refuse to pay for compliance packaging on opioids. In other words the unwillingness to reimburse is causing, contributing and exacerbating the opioid epidemic unnecessarily.
CEO of TimerCap LLC, Larry Twesky, leads a compliance packaging company that makes it possible for people to track their medications on the bottle that opioids are dispensed in while keeping vital labeling information. Their product is being sold in about 13,000 pharmacies around the country and doctors and the Surgeon General are not talking about it because Medicare doesn’t cover compliance packaging.
According to Persistence Market Research, the opioids market is estimated to account for $42 billion dollars by 2021 and the organization Facing Addiction in America: The Surgeon General’s Report on Alcohol, Drugs, and Health, states nearly 21 million Americans struggle with substance addictions.
Every 19 minutes an American dies from an opioid or heroin overdose. The consequences of this abuse have been drastic as the number of unintentional overdose deaths from prescription pain relievers has quadrupled in the United States since 1999. One of the biggest causes of opioid addiction is that less than 50% of patients take their medications as directed, with the biggest cause of that being forgetfulness.
On-going solutions for fighting opioid
TimerCap, a California-based company is offering a solution to prevent opioid addiction. They offer a vial cap, sized to fit most pharmacy vials, with a built-in LCD timer, that automatically keeps track of the time passed. The vial cap is useful to help people remember when they last took their medication or also indicate that someone else wrongly opened the vial. The TimerCap is the compliance packaging that is needed to prevent opioid abuse and available at all CVS and Rite Aid locations. It is important that more people be reminded there are simple and inexpensive solutions to remember when they last took their medication, which would reduce opioid abuse. Learn more about TimerCap.
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