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What Limiting Access to Prescription Opioids Means for Vets

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By Staff Reports

(DGIwire)   According to a recent article in Washington Post, federal restrictions on patient access to prescription opioids could have unintended consequences for the people who risk their lives for our safety and freedom. The rule would require veterans to return to their doctor each month to receive a prescription if they want to continue receiving their treatments.

Though the law applies to everyone who is prescribed opioids, veterans are especially affected for two reasons. First, there are thousands of them who depend on prescription drugs to treat a wide variety of ailments, the Washington Post notes. Second, VA wait times are already famously out of control. Last year, the problem with patient backlog came to the forefront as doctors were found to have falsely recorded wait times, as reported by CBS News. Even if they are able to set up regular meetings with their doctor, the ruling poses an additional roadblock for those who live far from their nearest VA offices.

Some VA pain specialists claim opioids have been systematically overprescribed to veterans. The Pentagon and doctors believe that painkiller use could contribute to family issues, suicide and homelessness among the veteran population. A 2011 American Public Health Association survey showed that VA patients overdose at a rate nearly two times the national average.

But is denying veterans the drugs they need likely to curb the problem? Cutting off or severely restricting access may not be the only solution to curb addiction; in turn it may give people fewer options and make them feel that the system is abandoning them.

Another way to resolve this challenge is to focus on those suffering from addiction. BioDelivery Sciences, a specialty pharmaceutical company based in Raleigh, NC, is working to find new applications of proven therapies, e.g. buprenorphine, aimed at addressing important unmet medical needs.

“We want to make sure we’re doing everything possible to fight the epidemic of opioid addiction safely and effectively,” says Dr. Mark A. Sirgo, president and CEO of BioDelivery Sciences. “Innovation in drug delivery could be a fruitful approach.”

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