Each day it seems, we are reading a new story about another life lost or ruined by addiction to prescription medication. There’s no doubt illegal use of prescription drugs has turned into a major problem—here in Connecticut, across New England and the country.
There is a misconception that those who become addicted to prescription medication are pain patients. As a pain patient myself, and the founder of an organization designed to help people with pain, I can tell you — that perception is wrong.
People waking up every day with chronic pain are not the crux of the prescription drug abuse epidemic. Abuse comes when those medications fall into the wrong hands.
The issue for lawmakers and for society as a whole is how to balance the need for those living with chronic pain to have access to the medications their doctors prescribe, while at the same time making sure those who would choose to abuse these medications can’t do so.
It is a complex problem, and many stakeholders have ideas for taking it on. One aspect of a potential solution is emerging as a common sense step and could make a major impact in stopping the illicit use of pain medication here in Connecticut.
Abuse deterrent formulation, or ADF, is a new technology that is being implemented by the pharmaceutical industry to prevent the abuse of prescription pain medications.
ADF technology is a big step forward in curbing prescription drug abuse. Due to the way ADF medications are developed, the drugs cannot be crushed, injected or otherwise altered to achieve a high.
While ADF medications are not the only tools that should be used to stem the rising tide of prescription drug abuse, the technology should be on the front line in that fight.
That is why my organization, the U.S. Pain Foundation, which proudly calls Connecticut home, is supporting legislation this session that would give patients who need pain management medication greater access to ADF technology.
SB 21 would require insurance companies to cover ADF medications at the same level as traditional pain medications.
If passed, Connecticut would be following in the footsteps of states like Massachusetts, which last year was the first state in the nation to pass similar legislation. Lawmakers there and in other states see ADF technology as a way to help put a stop to the unnecessary abuse of these critical medications, while not penalizing those who have legitimate need for pain relief.
Connecticut has a long history of embracing advancements in the biopharmaceutical industry, as well as ensuring patients here in the state have access to the medications that are critical to their health.
This legislation will give parity to ADF medications, and make sure they’re affordable for those who need them.
That will be a real step forward in not only curbing prescription drug abuse, but making sure people living with chronic pain have access to the medications they need to live healthy and productive lives.
Paul Gileno is the founder and president of the U.S. Pain Foundation, headquartered in Middletown.