The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced a new policy requiring Indian Health Service (IHS) clinicians to utilize their state prescription drug monitoring program (PDMP) databases prior to prescribing or dispensing any opioid for more than seven days.
The new policy is part of several actions HHS announced this week aimed at combating the nation’s opioid epidemic.
According to an HHS announcement, while many IHS clinicians already utilize PDMP databases, IHS will now require its opioid prescribers and pharmacists to check their state PDMP database prior to prescribing or dispensing any opioid for more than seven days.
The new policy is effective immediately for more than 1,200 IHS clinicians working in IHS federally operated facilities who are authorized to prescribe opioids.
“Checking a PDMP database before prescribing an opioid helps to improve appropriate pain management care, identify patients who may have an opioid misuse problem, and prevent diversion of drugs. This policy builds on IHS efforts to reduce the health consequences associated with opioid use disorder,” the HHS announcement stated.
“The opioid epidemic is one of the most pressing public health issues in the United States. More Americans now die from drug overdoses than car crashes, and these overdoses have hit families from every walk of life and across our entire nation,” HHS Secretary Sylvia Burwell said in a statement. “At HHS, we are helping to lead the nationwide effort to address the opioid epidemic by taking a targeted approach focused on prevention, treatment, and intervention. These actions build on this approach.”
The actions announced today build on the HHS Opioid Initiative, which was launched in March 2015 and is focused on three key priorities: 1) improving opioid prescribing practices; 2) expanding access to medication-assisted treatment (MAT) for opioid use disorder; and 3) increasing the use of naloxone to reverse opioid overdoses, the agency stated.