Our Medical Director, Richard Margolis MD, helps us make sense of new information in psychiatry, addiction, and behavioral health. This post is part of an ongoing series to increase awareness and improve understanding of the effects of the opioid epidemic on families in Delaware. This post focuses on efforts by the Delaware Division of Professional Regulation to provide oversight of opioid prescription.
On 1/27/17 the Delaware Division of Professional Regulation (DPR) sent an email notification to all Delaware-licensed prescribers about important new regulations for the safe prescribing of opiates. The new regulations went into effect on April 1, 2017.
The new regulations
• establish basic standards for prescribing opiates safely
• give new requirements on prescribing opiates for acute episodes as well as for chronic, long term pain management
Two Information fact sheets were included:
Delaware Prescription Opioid Guidelines for Patients
Delaware Prescription Opioid Guidelines for Health Care Providers
Both fact sheets include the following information:
• 228 people in Delaware died of drug-related deaths in 2015. Many of those deaths were related to prescription drugs.
• Almost 2 million Americans abused or were dependent on prescription opioids in 2014.
• As many as 1 in 4 people who receive prescription opioids long term for non-cancer pain in primary care settings struggle with addiction.
The fact sheet for patients answers the following:
• What are opioids?
• What are the dangers of opioids?
• What are the alternatives for pain management?
• How do I take opioids?
• How should I store and dispose of my medications?
The facts sheet for prescribers requires prescribers to document treatment agreements with patients and explains components of informed consent for opioid medication:
• The drug’s potential for addiction, abuse and misuse.
• The risks of life-threatening respiratory depression associated with the drug.
• Potential for fatal overdose as a result of accidental exposure, especially children.
• Neonatal opioid withdrawal symptoms.
• Potential for fatal overdose when interacting with alcohol.
• Other potentially fatal drug interactions, such as with benzodiazepines.
We at the DPBHS appreciate the efforts of the Delaware Division of Professional Regulation to establish basic standards for prescribing opiates safely and creating new requirements for prescribing opioids for pain management. Please share this information with families, especially those who have a history of substance use or who are prescribed opioid medication.