Group aims to educate about Rx abuse

The Prescription Drug Awareness Committee has been meeting for the past few years to try to come up with strategies to fight the abuse of prescription drugs. The group has implemented pain contracts and continues to push for state legislation to address the problem. In recent meetings, the group has been trying to find a way to purchase personal drug dispensing machines that control a patient’s dosage to limit overuse, theft or illegal sales of pills.

The group is trying to address the issue from several angles. At their meeting Tuesday at New Horizons Care Center, the PDAC decided to organize a public panel discussion to address one of the most important aspects of the pill problem: education.

The PDAC held a legislative forum in 2009, where members of the public were invited to speak with state legislators and members of the healthcare and law enforcement communities. Chief of Police Nick Lewis said he heard many positive comments about the event and said a refresher course could be helpful to the public.

“So much has changed since then,” Lewis said, noting that prescription drug abuse is still prevalent in the area.

The group decided to design the panel discussion to focus on educating the public, with health care providers, law enforcement officers, pharmacists and others involved in the issue to speak about the problem and the consequences of pill abuse. For example, a doctor could speak about the consequences of snorting pills or combining medications, while a police officer could talk about the consequences of being caught selling or giving away prescription medicines.

“There’s a lot of misinformation out there,” Lewis said. “I don’t think people are educated enough.”

The PDAC talked about holding the panel discussion in the fall and will begin planning details at the July PDAC meeting. Lewis is glad the PDAC has been working hard to address pill abuse, but said the LPD continues to work cases involving prescription drugs often.

“I don’t think we’ll ever totally cure the narcotics problem, but people need to be educated so they’re safe,” Lewis said.

The PDAC received a Compumed medication dispenser to test and they examined the machine Tuesday. The machine is designed to dispense a week’s worth of medicine, and members of the group wondered if the dispenser could be modified to go for a month.

They also discussed how long it would take pharmacists to load the pill dispensers and how the machines could be given to patients through a doctor’s prescription.

Unsure if insurance companies would cover the cost of the machines for patients, the group would like to find sponsors to donate the machines, which will be available for patients to use upon a provider’s recommendation.

By Brad Devereaux

2 Comments

  1. Chronicle Admin says:

    This device was originally designed to help elderly patients keep track of when to take their medicines, dispensing a pill each time a dose should be taken. It was designed by a company with roots in Burlington, Wyoming.

    The device has been modified by the company to add security, which consists of a metal plate that secures the pill cartridge in place using a standard lock and key, which could be put on by the pharmacy.

    I’m not saying it is impossible to thwart the device, because people can get really creative when they are sufficiently motivated, but there are a few measures in place. Short of picking the lock, a person would have to damage the machine to access the pills early, and they would be found out at the pharmacy. Also, the machine can be chained to a permanent structure in a home to prevent theft of the machine itself, which is another security measure with some possible avenues for criminals to get a stash of Rx drugs.

    I don’t have much hands-on experience with the device, but these are my observations. I think it would be great if Compumed would recognize the need and design a dispenser specifically designed to help the pill abuse issue.

  2. Pat says:

    I don’t think it would take too long to figure out how to thwart this pill dispenser. So what is the point … to keep the honest people more honest?

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