Getting the fix: Prescription drug abuse and prevention in Nevada outlined
RENO — America is a mere 6 percent of the population but consumes 99 percent of the world’s hydrocodone, according to the Nevada State Board of Pharmacy’s Executive Secretary Larry Pinson.The statistics continued: The United States consumes 80 percent of the world’s opioids (think the natural and synthetic derivatives of everything from the poppy family.)“We’re the most drug-oriented society in the world,” he said.And although there may be traces of drugs in the water, the issue is a cultural one, Pinson said during the second day of the Nevada Drug Summit.“Americans just want to take stuff. We’re crazy. We just take all those drugs,” he said.In 1997, the consumption of morphine per person in the United States was only 96 milligrams. Ten years later, the number was almost seven times higher at 700 milligrams. “It’s a cultural program,” he said. “We can’t incarcerate our way out of it. We need to get them (those addicted) fixed.”Pinson has another reason to be especially keen about the American obsession and consumption of prescription drugs. Nevada is second in the country for consumption of hydrocodone, as well as for oxycodone.Even though Nevada may be flooded with prescriptions per capita, the drugs don’t come cheap to the consumer. Heroin, he said, in the same family, is almost always cheaper.To its credit, Nevada is at the forefront of using technology to stop what Pinson called “doctor shopping,” which is also a felony.Doctor shopping is when a patient goes from doctor to doctor trying to obtain the same prescription over and over, creating a potential stockpile of drugs.The prescription monitoring program is a database that keeps track of who’s getting prescriptions and from whom.When a patient hits up too many doctors for the same prescription, among other reasons, red flags appear. Too many and all of those using the database who the patient interacts with get sent a report.“It’s a godsend for urgent care and emergency room doctors,” he said.Patients often come into the ER complaining of different types of back pain and the doctor can check the database to make sure the patient isn’t just shopping around to get prescriptions filled.“It’s a tough job for these guys,” Pinson said of the doctors.