New CNN Special Highlights Dangers of Prescription Drug Abuse

New CNN Special Highlights Dangers of Prescription Drug Abuse

11.19.12 | By Kaelan Hollon

CNN aired an important special called 'Deadly Dose' on prescription drug abuse last night, in which PhRMA's CEO John Castellani was briefly interviewed by Dr. Sanjay Gupta. If you missed it, I encourage you to take a few minutes to look through CNN's 'Deadly Dose' materials online to learn about the heartbreaking story of Benjamin Gupta, a young GW law student whose life was sadly cut short when he mixed pain medicine and alcohol last year. Ben was among thousands of others whose lives have been affected by the misuse of prescription medicine, and Dr. Gupta did a fine job of highlighting the balance between those who need pain medicine to treat medical conditions, and the dangers of misusing prescription medicines and mixing them with alcohol or other prescriptions.

It was great that Dr. Gupta wanted to hear from the pharmaceutical sector, whose pain medicines can be misused and abused, but when used for their intended purpose can help chronic pain sufferers maintain their jobs, family and life without the cloud of constant pain. Dr. Gupta spoke with a young woman in Takoma, WA whose injuries from a serious car accident have left her in near-constant pain. The young woman, a lawyer, spoke eloquently about how important access to her medicine was, and noted that without it, she couldn't begin to have a 'normal' life.

Another high point of the special was the focus on the effectiveness of various solutions, and Dr. Gupta made three broad points. First, preserving people's access to their pain medicine has to be part of any plan to address the issue; the interview with the Takoma woman was a key example of this need. Second, Dr. Gupta seemed supportive of prescription drug monitoring programs, state-based databases that track prescribing habits and help states crack down on "pill mills".

We've long been supportive of these programs, and as John Castellani PhRMA's CEO noted in his interview with Dr. Gupta, we also support the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy's Interconnect Program, which helps states share information. Finally, as former President Bill Clinton noted in the special, the solution has to be based in communication. A critical conversation about safe medicine use and abuse needs to happen between neighbors, family members, friends, coworkers and physician/patients, so that more people understand the importance of not just taking their medicines safely, but keeping them safe from others, as well.

There is no benefit from a medicine that's being misused, and we've been working hard to educate people about keeping their medicines safe and using them properly. If you're ready to learn more, check out some of the resources available in our Prescription Drug Abuse Resource Center.

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