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Lawmakers push FDA to require training for professionals prescribing opioids

Published: Oct. 22, 2021 at 4:42 PM EDT
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AUGUSTA COUNTY, Va. (WHSV) - Even though opioid dispensing has decreased in recent years, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported there were still more than 153 million opioid prescriptions filled in 2019.

That’s enough for almost two-thirds of adults to have a bottle of painkillers, so lawmakers are pushing for reform.

West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin (D) led the push for the Food and Drug Administration to require additional training for any healthcare provider prescribing opioids.

The Mid-Atlantic Recovery Center (MARC) works with people in the community battling opioid use disorder. The center says additional training should have been put in place long ago.

“If we think about our local area, which is close to Southwest Virginia, which is the epicenter of the epidemic. The thought that people who prescribe opioids are not already dedicating time to the devastating effects they can have, it’s upsetting,” MARC owner Natalie Broadnax said.

Virginia has the prescription monitoring program, which oversees how some medications are given out, putting the state ahead of the current push for national guidance.

However, MARC practical nurse Karren Simonsen says not enough providers are covered under the prescription monitoring program, so some people get prescriptions even if they have a history of addiction.

“It’s important that not only are primary care providers educated and held accountable for the prescriptions that they’re writing, but also dental providers because that’s something that we see often,” Simonsen said. “People go to dental surgeons or dentists and are receiving opiate prescriptions while they’re not monitoring the prescription monitoring program and they’re not necessarily aware of what else they’re prescribed or of their addiction tendencies.”

Dianna Hays, a registered nurse at MARC, says it’s vital to know someone’s medical history before prescribing certain medications. She says programs like the one Manchin wants to implement can help keep those factors on record.

“There are so many co-occurring disorders and substance abuse is definitely one of the top ones we see. We need this additional training for all providers, to be able to gauge the scope of the situation and be able to treat patients the way they need to be treated in a safe manner,” Hays said.

Manchin says the training would be similar to what professionals who treat substance use disorders complete.

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