Doctors, nurses and other health professionals across the country say they are struggling to get their drugs in stock as part of a surge in demand.
And it’s taking them a long time.
The opioid crisis has forced doctors and other medical providers to work longer and harder to find supplies and fill prescriptions, said Dr. Jennifer C. Brown, president of the National Association of Chief Medical Officers.
She said her association is pushing to expand access to prescription opioids by putting online ordering in place.
“If you don’t have online ordering, you are going to see more opioid overdose deaths,” she said.
“We are looking at this as a public health crisis.”
Brown said the association’s members are working with pharmaceutical companies and other providers to get online ordering into place, and are working on creating a prescription database.
“There is no substitute for getting the medicines to you,” she added.
The problem is exacerbated by the increasing number of people dying from overdoses in hospitals.
The crisis has put doctors in a bind.
Doctors are having to do a lot of patient education and training to get the drugs in their hands quickly, said Brown.
Doctors also need to be able to provide the drugs to patients.
So far, more than 8 million people have received prescriptions for opioids, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The new database will make it easier for doctors to make sure their patients receive the medication they need, said Daniella R. Schatz, executive director of the American Medical Association’s Health Care Leadership Institute.
But many doctors are skeptical of the database’s ability to meet the demand.
They say the problem is more than just getting access to drugs.
“We are seeing a spike in opioid overdose,” said R.L. Schaffer, a medical officer of the AMA.
“So we are seeing an increased demand for opioids and we are not getting enough of them.
And this is a problem that has to be addressed, because it’s not a problem for the general population.”
But many of the nation’s most highly skilled doctors say they’re already taking steps to fill their prescriptions.
One doctor said he and his colleagues are working hard to make their patients more likely to get medications.
“I’ve been told by people, ‘I’m not really a pain patient, I have no problem,'” said Drs.
Matthew K. Luehrs and Jeffrey L. Mather.
“And I am not.
So, I think I can be a good patient for them.
I can provide them with the medications that they need.”
The new opioid prescription database, known as NARAP, has been in the works for about a year, and is expected to go into effect next month.
In addition to the availability of prescription opioids, the new database also includes information on pain management and treatment options, such as physical therapy and home health visits.
The American Academy of Family Physicians has been advocating for the database, and said it will help to address the shortage of medical care.
“The National Association is pleased to see that the AMA has been making meaningful progress on this important public health initiative,” the organization said in a statement.
“The database will ensure that physicians have access to accurate and reliable information to make informed decisions about which medications are right for their patients, and which are not.”
Copyright Associated Press / NBC New York