Drug Industry Fighting Opioid Limits
Question: How are drug makers responding to the increased regulation on opioids?
Answer: The Associated Press and the Center for Public Integrity recently reported that pharmaceutical companies and allied groups have steadily increased their lobbying efforts at both the State and Federal levels in response to the heightened scrutiny and regulation over opioid prescribing. It is reported that the drug industry has spent more than $880 million nationwide on lobbying and campaign contributions from 2006 through 2015. The massive figure represents more than 200 times what those advocating for stricter policies spent and eight times more than what the gun lobby spent during the same time period. Drug makers and advocacy groups also employ an annual average of 1,350 lobbyists in state capitals who aim to weaken, if not outright defeat, legislation aimed at curtailing tide of prescription opioids. Although the industry maintains that it is committed to solving the problems linked to its painkillers, with pharmaceutical companies launching initiatives to encourage more cautious prescribing, critics say that the opioid lobby is desperate to keep the very profitable status quo. Pharmaceutical lobbyists are now pushing bills to fight opioid abuse but only because it directs physicians to prescribe their proprietary patent-protected abuse-deterrent opioids. To date, approximately 21 bills have been introduced, all of which contains nearly identical language.  The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (“ACS CAN”) and the Academy of Integrative Pain Management have lobbied lawmakers to balance efforts to address the opioid crisis with the needs of chronic pain patients. The ACS CAN boasts nearly 200 lobbyists nationwide who have consistently opposed opioid restrictions, even in cases where opioid prescribing to cancer patients is specifically exempted.

Weekly Charting Tip:

Dear practitioner:

I suggest you all look at the AHRQ’s National Quality Strategy (NQS) for healthcare. Yes, one actually exists! In the next few columns, let’s see how we can use our charts to “help” the federal government. The NQS emphasizes 4 points concerning increasing our quality of care. The first is effective treatment. Do your charts highlight exactly how your treatment of your patient is effective for that patient? How is that patient getting better? Specifically which of his/her activities of daily life improved and by how much? How many blocks can your patient walk now as opposed to when your treatment started? What is the size of the lesion in compared to the patient’s last visit? Yes, your chart should have this type of detail for you to survive and thrive in our new healthcare environment.

‘til next time, Larry Kobak, Esq.

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