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Is Limiting Prescription Opiate Painkillers to 14 Days Maximum at a Time a Solution to Help Curb Opiate Abuse?

Government officials, the FDA, and state leaders are looking for new ways to help curb the opiate epidemic spreading rapidly across the nation. Professionals in many medical fields are looking at new ways to combat the drug problem. Many opiate prescriptions are being written out for months at a time, flooding the streets with dangerous opiates.

In many instances, patients are being written prescriptions for a highly addictive painkiller to last them 120 days. This makes it more convenient for the patient because most of these controlled substances do no have refills. You must visit the doctor every three months in order to receive your next prescription after receiving an examination. The issue that professionals are looking at is whether they should drastically shorten the day span from 120 days to 14 days. Doing so will allow the patient 1 refill after 14 days. This drastically lowers the amount of pills given to a patient at one time.

I feel this is a brilliant idea to help cut back on the abuse. Mass amounts of pills will be taken off of the street by shortening prescriptions. Many drug dealers and abusers who go to a doctor in order to get 120 pills of oxycodone 30mg immediate release pills to sell or use will receive less pills to abuse. Many drug rings employ “patients” who get prescriptions for opiates then sell them to dealers at wholesale prices. If these patients are only allowed a 14 day supply, rather than 120 days, the amount of pills would drop drastically.  The less amount of drugs available on the black market, the less abuse the painkillers can cause.

I have seen progress being made with cutting down on "pill mills" and creating Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs.  I feel that shortening the length of prescriptions will just add to the reduction. Yes, it will cause some people who follow the laws and take their medicine as prescribed some extra doctor visits.  I understand the anger and disgust they might feel because they have to jump through hoops to get their pain medication, but it will drastically reduce the pills on the streets.

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts has recently implemented a 14 day prescription which has cut back more than 6.5 million prescriptions in a year-and-a-half, which equates to a 20 percent decline in Percocet and 50 percent decline in Oxycontin prescriptions. “The program is to make sure people get the pain medication they need and get the right amount of those pain medications,” Blue Cross Chief Physician John Fallon told WBZ NewsRadio 1030. “They can get the medications where they were appropriate, but they weren’t getting 120 days.” (Source: Boston CBS Local April 8, 2014).  I think our officials might be on the right track to helping curb the abuse.


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