Prescription Drug Abuse and Pain: Are We Winning the War?

Mike Hennessy
Published Online: Thursday, September 30, 2010
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Pharmacists are on the front line for every major health condition. As the key dispensers of medications for our nation’s ills— from the simple cold to chronic conditions that require a coterie of pharmaceuticals to combat severe pain—we know you have seen it all.

This issue’s focus is on Pain Awareness and the management and treatment of pain. According to the American Pain Foundation (APF), physicians, health payers, and policy makers need to do a much better job of managing pain for the 76.5 million Americans who struggle with pain without appropriate treatment. That’s why the APF has launched a major campaign to eliminate the barriers. It only makes sense to encourage members of the medical community to work with the public and private sectors to strategically conquer this major health problem. But it is their voices that should be heard first when it comes to creating policy and appropriate access to care, not those of the pundits in Washington, DC.

Pain revolves around a key component of the pharmacist’s daily work: dispensing appropriate medications. Our cover story, “Knee Injuries: Helping Patients Treat the Pain” (see page 50) focuses on the steps pharmacists can take to help their patients deal with this common problem. We cover other important pain conditions here as well, including migraine, rheumatoid arthritis, and carpal tunnel syndrome, to aid you in counseling your patients.

Unfortunately, there is a dark side to pain management—the illegal use of pain medications. As our Editor-in-Chief Fred Eckel explains (see Editor’s Note, page 1), the illegal use of prescription drugs affects not only the public, but pharmacists personally as well. Even with controlled substance regulations, he notes that “prescription drug abuse is an epidemic in this country.” Are the federal actions and programs now in place enough to fight this war, and are we winning it? The solution is surely in more authority and control on the local state and town levels. Put it in the hands of the people and you will see results.

Pharmacy Times has been the trusted pharmacy journal of choice for pharmacists for more than 100 years, so it is with great pleasure that we announce a brand new way for you to access our journal. On September 1, 2010, Pharmacy Times launched our first iPad edition as we debut the first pharmacy journal in this exciting format. Everything you have come to expect from Pharmacy Times and more—extra resources, exclusive content, wide-ranging topics—is in this unique multimedia package. I urge you to download the free app, available from the iTunes Store, if you haven’t already done so.

We also welcome a new group of pharmacists to Pharmacy Times—the Pharmacy Times Council of Advisors (see page 13), which is composed of a state-by-state roster of 50 key industry leaders. Their mission is to bring vital, trend-setting information and news from the local level, so that our readers, Web site users, and iPad followers will be kept up-to-date and in touch.

Accomplishing what needs to be done in health care, in fact, works best on the grassroots level, which is why you will be interested in the personal stories of the 30 finalists profiled in our special section, the Next-Generation Pharmacist (see page 68). This is the culmination of a nationwide program sponsored by Pharmacy Times and Parata Systems. Their stories are a perfect reminder that pharmacists exhibit those positive traits that move their profession forward: personal initiative and responsibility, integrity, and entrepreneurism. Thank you for reading!


Mike Hennessy
 



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