Ensuring safe access to medication for palliative care while preventing prescription drug abuse: innovations for American inner cities, rural areas, and communities overwhelmed by addiction
Richard B Francoeur
School of Social Work, Adelphi University, Garden City, NY, USA; Center for the Psychosocial Study of Health and Illness, Columbia University, New York, NY, USA
Abstract: This article proposes and develops novel components of community-oriented programs for creating and affording access to safe medication dispensing centers in existing retail pharmacies and in permanent or travelling pharmacy clinics that are guarded by assigned or off-duty police officers. Pharmacists at these centers would work with police, medical providers, social workers, hospital administrators, and other professionals in: planning and overseeing the safe storage of controlled substance medications in off-site community safe-deposit boxes; strengthening communication and cooperation with the prescribing medical provider; assisting the prescribing medical provider in patient monitoring (checking the state prescription registry, providing pill counts and urine samples); expanding access to lower-cost, and in some cases, abuse-resistant formulations of controlled substance medications; improving transportation access for underserved patients and caregivers to obtain prescriptions; and integrating community agencies and social networks as resources for patient support and monitoring. Novel components of two related community-oriented programs, which may be hosted outside of safe medication dispensing centers, are also suggested and described: (1) developing medication purchasing cooperatives (ie, to help patients, families, and health institutions afford the costs of medications, including tamper- or abuse-resistant/deterrent drug formulations); and (2) expanding the role of inner-city methadone maintenance treatment programs in palliative care (ie, to provide additional patient monitoring from a second treatment team focusing on narcotics addiction, and potentially, to serve as an untapped source of opioid medication for pain that is less subject to abuse, misuse, or diversion).
Keywords: controlled substances, diversion, drug abuse, inner-city, methadone, methadone maintenance treatment, pain, palliative care, pharmacy, prescription drugs, rural, safety, tamper- and abuse-resistant drugs, TARD, transportation
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