Prescription Drug Abuse Is Escalating

Published Online: Monday, August 1, 2005

As abuse of prescription drugs continues to climb, a new study revealed some interesting findings. The study, Under the Counter: The Diversion and Abuse of Controlled Prescription Drugs in the US, defined prescription drug abuse as the taking of prescription drugs not prescribed for the user, or the use of prescription drugs taken only for the experience or feeling it causes. The 214-page report by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University polled pharmacists (n = 1030) and physicians (n = 979) separately. The major findings concerning pharmacists include:

  • 30% of pharmacists do not regularly confirm the physician's information (physician's federal narcotic number) when dispensing controlled drugs
  • 61% do not regularly ask if the patient is taking any other controlled drugs when dispensing a controlled medication
  • 51.8% of pharmacists believe that patients account for the bulk of the diversion problem
  • 78.4% of pharmacists become somewhat or very concerned about diversion or abuse when a patient asks for a controlled drug by its brand name
  • Only 48.1% of pharmacists received any training in preventing drug diversion, and only 49.6% in identifying abuse or addiction, since pharmacy school

The results were similar among the physicians polled. The survey's key findings include:

  • 43.3% of physicians do not ask about prescription drug abuse when taking a patient's medical history
  • 33% do not regularly call or obtain records from the patient's previous (or other treating) physicians before prescribing controlled drugs on a long-term basis
  • 59.1% of physicians believe that patients account for the bulk of the diversion problem
  • Only 19.1% of physicians received any medical school training in identifying prescription drug diversion
  • Only 39.6% of physicians received any training in medical school in identifying prescription drug abuse and addiction

Latest Articles
Donnie Calhoun, RPh, PD, National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA) Foundation vice president, discusses how pharmacists can prepare themselves and their business before, during, and after a disaster.
Ken Whittemore Jr, Surescript's senior vice president of professional and regulatory affairs, talks about some new transactions available that can help pharmacists.
In case you got caught up in the Thanksgiving holiday rush, here are the top trending stories you may have missed in November:
Bryan Ziegler, PharmD, executive director of Kennedy Pharmacy Innovation Center, provides some resources for community pharmacists to use when implementing new collaborative services with primary care providers.
Latest Issues