Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts wants to do their part in reducing prescription drug abuse so they are planning to limit physicians’ power to write new prescriptions for more than a 30 day supply. This plan will begin on July 1, 2012 and doctors will no longer be able to write prescriptions for 60 or 90 days for pain pills. The exception to this law is for the terminally ill or cancer patients.
The hopes behind this change are to limit the number of these highly addictive pills in the home and away from those they were not prescribed for and to decrease the threat of addiction. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts hopes that this approach will catch on and other insurers will follow suit. These efforts will likely reduce a number of problems.
Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts claims that around 10% of those that they insure have received prescription pain pills for more than 30 days consecutively. The changes will consist of reviews that are mandatory with any prescription pain pills that are prescribed for more than 30 days. The doctor and patient will have to discuss the threats of addiction.
Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts has looked over the evidence about these highly addictive pain pills such as Vicodin, Percocet and OxyContin and seen how many people have died. They just want to do their part now. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, close to 15,000 people died in 2008, from overdoses from these pain killers. Also, in 2010 over five million people used these pills recreationally. Most found them laying around the house or received them from someone they knew. Those against this reform argue that those with chronic pain may not be able to get their pills easily. This accounts for about 1/3 of the US population.
The new policy will force doctors to prove that they have tried other measures to reduce pain before they can write prescriptions for pain for more than 30 days. Basically, doctors will have to develop a treatment plan, offer the patient education about addiction, have them sign a pain contract so they are aware of the dangers, and patients will have to list only one pharmacy where they will fill these prescriptions to reduce the rates of doctor shopping.
Some doctors claim they simply do not have the time for this kind of regimen that takes a lot more work for the doctor. Massachusetts is not the only state that is stepping up to the plate. Washington is also making changes in the way that doctors can write pain killer prescriptions. Other added efforts are expected to include urine samples taken from the patient.
These efforts may just be the beginning of effectively wagering the war on prescription pain pill abuse.
This article was written by Cheryl Hinneburg. Cheryl is the addiction specialist content writer for KLEAN Treatment Center. She is also working on her MS in substance abuse counseling. Cheryl has been married for 20 years and has five children.