CVS, one of the largest retail pharmacies in the United States, recently enacted a law that when put into effect, will limit opioid prescriptions to 7 days. This doesn't come with much surprise as the rates of opioid deaths and overdoses continue to increase. According to the CDC, a 10 day supply could increase the risk of addiction by 60%, especially for patients who receive opioids as an unnecessary treatment plan for pain related injuries/minor surgeries. These measures are put in place to protect the aforementioned group from risks associated with addiction by limiting supply and monitoring refills.
There's also another reason for limiting supply, which has to do with leveraging prescription drug monitoring programs (PDMPs). Some states, like North Carolina, have began to implement these programs as a tool to prevent prescription abuse and monitor its effects. While there are major benefits for these types of programs, such as data generation, they still fall short in addressing some of the epidemic's route problems.
One important issue that they fail to address is doctor shopping, which is the process of attaining multiple prescriptions from different doctors using different insurance plans or covering the costs in cash. Also, for patients suffering with chronic pain, monitoring refills or limiting supply, can't prevent them form becoming addicted because the symptoms that they may exhibit cannot be identified using highly automated tools that strictly monitor.
These tools are nevertheless important to have as a stepping stone for future innovation in the prevention sector. Start ups like pilleve and many others can leverage these programs to further provide safeguards for both patients and stakeholders. Instead of only monitoring refills, we can begin to leverage real time intake and compare them to the amount of refills a patient gets per month/cycle. This can not only provide more accurate assessments of a patient's behavior, but more importantly, prevent doctor shopping since it would require patients who are receiving opioids to disclose data before any other prescription can be given.
What we also need to begin to leverage is inter-organizational communication across multiple boarders and disclose information that can prove to be beneficial in preventing a future prescription epidemic. The CDC and NIH (NIDA) have done a great job by creating educational platforms that raise awareness to the issue at hand. They've fostered a space for open dialogue, which is crucial to eliminating the stigma behind addiction.