America’s prescription medicine epidemic

In October last year, the Obama Administration announces public and private effort to address the country’s prescription medicine epidemic.

The number of prescrip­tions filled for opioid pain relievers—some of the most powerful medications available—has increased dramatically in recent years. From 1997 to 2007, the milligram per person use of prescription opioids in the U.S. increased from 74 milligrams to 369 milligrams, an increase of 402 percent. (source) With statistics like these, there is no doubt that America is experiencing a prescription medicine epidemic.

Health care providers wrote 259 million prescriptions for opioid pain medications in 2012 – enough for every American adult to have a bottle of pills. (source)

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will invest $8.5 million on the development of tools and resources to help inform prescribers about appropriate opioid prescribing and to track data on prescribing trends in ensuring clinical quality improvement measures and programs on opioid prescribing are in place.

In America, forty-three states have authorised prescription drug monitoring programs (PDMPs) to try and tackle the prescription medicine epidemic. These programs are established by state legislation and are paid for by a combination of state and Federal funds.

America's drug

The implementation of such monitoring tools allows prescribing doctors to detect and prevent the diversion and misuse of prescription medicine at the point of care. This provides early warning of prescription medicine misuse and/or addiction, ability to assist in patient care by providing treatment, as well as to prevent fatalities linked to prescription medicine overdose.

Similar efforts need to be taken in Australia to better support and inform prescribing doctors to achieve better healthcare delivery. Without access to a real-time database, the prescription medicine epidemic will continue and the number of people that misuse and overdose will grow.

For more information on MediSecure’s Real Time Prescription Monitoring tool, please visit our website at

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