Indian Health Service Requires Opioid (Painkillers) Prescribers & Pharmacists to Check State Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs


Published July 6, 2016

ROCKVILLE — Effective immediately, the Indian Health Service (IHS) will require its opioid (painkillers) prescribers and pharmacists to check their State Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs (PDMPs) databases prior to prescribing or dispensing any opioid for more than seven days.

This announcement was released on Monday, July 5, 2016, but was embargoed until Tuesday, July 6, 2016 at 12:01 a.m. – Eastern Time.

The new policy is effective immediately for more than 1,200 IHS clinicians working in IHS federally operated facilities who are authorized to prescribe opioids.

Checking a PDMP before prescribing helps to improve appropriate pain management care, identify patients who may have an opioid use disorder and prevent diversion of drugs. This policy builds on other IHS efforts to address the opioid epidemic.

In December, IHS announced that it would provide hundreds of Bureau of Indian Affairs law enforcement officers with the lifesaving opioid overdose-reversal drug naloxone and train them how to use it.

Many Indian Health Service (IHS) clinicians already utilize PDMPs.

Expanding Access to Treatment

Also, announced on Monday, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), through the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, is issuing a final rule to increase from 100 to 275 the number of patients that qualified physicians who prescribe buprenorphine for opioid use disorders can treat.

Providers, policymakers, advocates, and experts have pointed to the current 100 patient limit for buprenorphine prescribing as a barrier to opioid use disorder treatment. The rule aims to increase access to medication-assisted treatment and associated behavioral health supports for tens of thousands of people with opioid use disorders, while preventing diversion.

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