National Governor's Association focuses on prescription drug abuse

WASHINGTON — As part of the National Governors Association’s ongoing effort to help states reduce prescription drug abuse, findings from the Prescription Drug Abuse Reduction Policy Academy were the focus of the Health and Human Services Committee session at NGA’s 2014 Winter Meeting, the association announced Sunday. 

NGA vice chair Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper and Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley have led the Prescription Drug Abuse Project since September 2012. Throughout the yearlong initiative, seven states — including Alabama, Arkansas, Colorado, Kentucky, New Mexico, Oregon and Virginia — have worked to develop coordinated plans to combat prescription drug abuse.

During the Winter Meeting session, “Battling an Epidemic: State Efforts to Combat Prescription Drug Abuse,” governors released an issue brief detailing lessons learned from the policy academy. 

Findings from "Reducing Prescription Drug Abuse: Lessons Learned from an NGA Policy Academy" included:

  • Leadership matters;
  • Prescribing behavior needs to change;
  • Disposal options should be convenient and cost-effective;
  • Prescription drug monitoring programs are underused;
  • Public education is critical;
  • Treatment is essential; and
  • Data, metrics and evaluation must drive policy and practice.

“The abuse of prescription drugs continues to be seen in communities across the nation,” Hickenlooper stated. “This initiative helped states develop effective strategies to help decrease the number of individuals who are misusing or abusing prescription drugs and the resulting number of people who are harmed or die.”

“When discussing efforts to fight this problem, we must remember to differentiate between those who are abusing prescription drugs and those who legitimately need these medications,” Gov. Bentley noted. 

“HDMA applauds the NGA for addressing our nation’s ongoing prescription drug abuse epidemic by convening a variety of stakeholders — including HDMA — to participate in its Prescription Drug Abuse Reduction Policy Academy," said John Gray, president and CEO of the Healthcare Distribution Management Association. "We …  agree that policymakers will need to be mindful of potential unintended consequences that may occur from adopting certain solutions, which may hamper legitimate patient access to medicines. HDMA and the nation’s primary healthcare distributors look forward to working with the NGA and others as it continues this initiative, as we work together to eradicate prescription drug abuse in the United States.”

Because this issue remains a top priority for governors, NGA announced a second round of the initiative to be led by Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval and Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin.

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