WVa. leaders get specific on painkiller drug abuse reduction

Published: Jul. 28, 2016 at 4:28 PM EDT
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WVa. Attorney Gen. Morrisey's office sent WHSV the following statement:

West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey, in coordination with the state’s Board of Pharmacy, launched cutting-edge technology to help prescribers and pharmacists reduce opioid overprescription in the Mountain State. The tool, a morphine-equivalency calculator, analyzes opioid drugs prescribed to a patient and converts dosage amounts to a standard, comparable measurement. It provides quick access to the combined potency of the patient’s existing prescriptions and the impact of any new medication. That information will be valuable in detecting prescription abuse, overuse and potentially preventing countless life-threatening drug overdoses. In the future, it is hoped it will give a broader snapshot of changes in a patient’s usage over time. “I’m proud to assist the Board of Pharmacy in making this tool available,” Attorney General Morrisey said. “Physicians across the state have been looking for a quick and easy way to assess the comprehensive profile of their patients’ prescription history. Consistent usage of this tool will enhance patient care and save lives.” The Board of Pharmacy currently administers the state’s Controlled Substance Monitoring Program, which tracks all Schedule II, III, and IV controlled substance prescriptions filled in the state for individual patients. The calculator will use conversion factors and formulas published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to aggregate that data and convert it to a morphine milligram equivalent known as a patient score. This promises to streamline the process and provide ease of use not currently available, while achieving a higher level of accuracy and consistency in results. “This gives practitioners a useful method for assessing a patient’s current level of opioid intake,” said Mike Goff, administrator for the Board of Pharmacy’s prescription drug monitoring database. “I very much appreciate Attorney General Morrisey’s willingness to partner in making this available. It provides a convenient, state-of-the-art tool to help West Virginia practitioners prevent adverse drug-related events, such as substance abuse, diversion and overdose.” The West Virginia Attorney General’s Office will provide startup funds for the calculator. Ongoing maintenance costs will be paid by the Board of Pharmacy. In 2015, West Virginia recorded approximately 686 drug overdose deaths, including 598 opiate-related fatal overdoses. That’s one year after West Virginia led the nation in drug overdose deaths at a rate of 35.5 per 100,000 people. Reversing that trend has been a top priority for the Attorney General. He has fought the epidemic on multiple fronts with criminal prosecutions, increased funding, education, civil litigation, multi-state initiatives and a recent capacity-filled conference that engaged the faith-based community. In particular, the Attorney General has received broad support for his draft best practices initiative to reduce opioid use as a first-line therapy option. Read a copy of his best practices for prescribing opioid drugs at http://ow.ly/LU6e300iqMR and dispensing opioid drugs at http://ow.ly/4kOM300iqSa