Partnering to Fight Prescription Drug Abuse

Nov 18, 2013
Express Scripts and the National Association of Drug Diversion Investigators (NADDI): working together to fight prescription drug abuse, a growing epidemic.

For 15 years working as a police officer, I dealt with crime of all kinds, including illegal drug trafficking. I witnessed firsthand the impact illegal drugs have on our communities and the deaths they cause. And yet, I had no experience in identifying or dealing with a much larger epidemic that begins in our own homes – prescription drug abuse. It’s an epidemic that kills nearly 15,000 people each year – more than cocaine and heroin combined. Pharmaceuticals are in everyone’s medicine cabinet. Prescription drug abuse affects a teenager in an affluent suburban community as much as a child growing up in the inner city.

However, when it comes to training and resources available to fight the problem, not much has changed in the 25 years since I was a police officer.

The Importance of Training in Prescription Drug Abuse

In my current role as executive director of the National Association of Drug Diversion Investigators (NADDI), I have been closely involved in training law enforcement personnel about prescription drug abuse. Even today, when I ask a room full of police officers how many of them have received training related to abuse or diversion of prescription medication before, I see scarcely a hand or two raised. As significant as this issue has become for all of us and our communities, and with the staggering statistics related to overdose deaths and ER visits, there is little time spent at training academies on this topic.

It’s a gap we, at NADDI, try to fill. We started with one conference focused solely on law enforcement. It has grown to 25 states with regional training sessions each year and expanded to include key stakeholders, such as physicians, pharmacists, private corporations, insurance companies and the pharmaceutical industry.

A Growing Epidemic

Prescription drug abuse is not just a law enforcement issue. It's a community problem. If you are a parent or teacher, if you are involved in your local community or in sports, you will most likely run into some kind of abuse-related issues. Overdose deaths are growing among our young people.

But as our efforts to combat prescription drug abuse have grown, so have the schemes to circumvent our safeguards. Now those who are abusing prescription medication or involved in diverting them to the secondary market have access to more technology – as well as social media – to find buyers and sellers.

The resources available to law enforcement agencies, unfortunately, have not kept pace. That’s why we need partnerships with companies such as Express Scripts.

Partnering to Fight Abuse

The Express Scripts Fraud, Waste & Abuse team brings a different perspective to dealing with the challenge. Their data analytic capabilities identify potential cases of abuse earlier than the system would have otherwise uncovered. Express Scripts spots how prescription drug abuse and fraud trends are changing, and the organization continuously adapts to these changes. Its efforts help further NADDI’s mission of educating stakeholders and raising awareness about prescription drug abuse.

When companies like that put resources into fighting prescription drug fraud and abuse, it helps bolster everyone’s efforts. We wouldn’t have 400 people coming to our 24th annual conference, which begins today in St. Louis, if not for our corporate partners like Express Scripts.

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