Delaware Panel Offers Proposals to Fight Prescription Drug Abuse

In February 2012, the governor of Delaware created the Prescription Drug Action Committee. Its task was to make recommendations to prevent prescription drug abuse. Why? Because in 2009 Delaware had the 9th highest drug overdose rate in the country and was the 5th highest in opioid sales. Something had to be done. The Committee has just released its proposals for action.

“You go into a pharmacy, these controlled substances are behind lock and key. Often they’re in safes. You walk into your neighbor’s house, they’re sitting out on the kitchen counter…You really have to change the mentality about how people are thinking about these drugs,” Secretary of State Jeff Bullock said.

The first recommendation is the building up of the state’s Prescription Monitoring Program (PMP). The PMP collects information on controlled substance prescriptions, including how many doctors a patient is getting their prescription from and how often. The committee would like to see all physicians with controlled substance licenses to register with the PMP. About 20% have so far.

The second recommendation is all about training: law enforcement, pharmacists and practitioners. People in these key professions would learn more information about how to spot prescription drug abuse and what to do if it suspected. The training would also help doctors understand the need to check the PMP prior to writing a prescription.

Secretary of Health and Social Services Rita Landgraf said that it’s also important to treat those already suffering from drug addiction.

“Some of my concern is: how do we develop that robust system that will support people who are suffering from addiction?” she said. “If it’s not prescription drug, then they go out to get heroin. It’s a cheaper way to maintain that addiction.”

Secretary Landgraf also noted that about half of Delaware’s high school students think it’s safe to use someone else’s prescription. Abusing prescription drugs is often a gateway to abusing more and stronger drugs later. As a long term goal, the committee recommends increased education for youth.

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