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Misuse of Pain Medication Draws Heightened Concerns
Date:8/19/2009

PHILADELPHIA, Aug. 19 /PRNewswire/ -- Warnings by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and increasing misuse and overdoses are telling reminders of the dangers pain medications can present. A recent study* reveals that one in 10 high school students have tried opioid drugs and the prevalence of young adults using narcotics for non-medical use is the highest in 15 years. As an advocate for patient safety, Independence Blue Cross (IBC), in conjunction with its pharmacy benefits manager, FutureScripts(R), has launched a medication safety program to expand on safe prescribing procedures for narcotic drugs.

The new program can save lives by identifying potentially dangerous drug interactions, and may also reduce medical costs when the appropriate medication is prescribed and used properly. It can also help to ensure that underlying medical problems are diagnosed and properly treated to avoid the long-term dependency on pain medication.

Since the late 1990's, the abuse, misuse, and overdose of prescription drugs have increased significantly. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, each year more than 20,000 people in the United States die from drug overdose -- many accidental, and the most common drugs cited are opioids, or narcotics like hydrocodone and oxycodone.

"Claims data showed multiple instances where our members were being prescribed up to ten different pain killer drugs from three or more doctors within a short period of time," said Dr. Jennifer Dragoun, a medical director for FutureScripts who manages this program. "In reviewing these cases, it was clear action was necessary to ensure patient safety."

IBC and FutureScripts began implementing the new patient safety program in May, and the medical directors and pharmacists focus on the following types of clinical situations:

  • instances where members are taking multip
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SOURCE Independence Blue Cross
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