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Report Calls on Government to Evaluate, Coordinate Education on Prescription Drug Abuse


A report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) calls on federal agencies to do a better job of coordinating and assessing the effectiveness of their efforts to educate prescribers and the public about prescription drug abuse.

The report notes that while all agencies have established measures to monitor the implementation and functional elements of their education programs, only two agencies have established or are planning to set up ways to evaluate the impact of their efforts on audiences’ knowledge, attitudes and behavior, The Hill reports.

“Without outcome evaluations, federal agencies have limited knowledge of how effective their efforts are in achieving their goals — in this case, reducing prescription pain reliever abuse and misuse,” the report notes.

The Food and Drug Administration, the National Institutes of Health and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration are among the federal agencies that have programs to educate prescribers about prescription drug abuse. Their strategies include continuing medical education programs, requiring training and certification in order to prescribe certain drugs and developing curriculum resources for future prescribers.

According to the report, the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) is developing a legislative proposal to require education for prescribers registering with the Drug Enforcement Administration to prescribe controlled substances.

The GAO found several instances of agencies engaging in similar efforts, directed at similar audiences, but noted federal agencies have recently begun to coordinate. “Nevertheless, federal agencies have missed opportunities to share lessons learned and pool resources among similar education efforts,” the report stated.

The ONDCP should establish outcome measures and implement a plan to evaluate proposed educational efforts, and ensure that agencies share lessons learned among similar educational programs, the report concluded.

2 Responses to this article

  1. Avatar of Danielle Drake -
    Danielle Drake - / January 26, 2012 at 5:47 am

    According to a recent national survey conducted throughout the United States, nearly one third of individuals 12 and older used a prescription medication as their first time recreational drug use. What is more disturbing is that prescription drug overdoses, especially opioids, have surpassed illicit drug overdoses. The Center for Diseases Control, or CDC, says that 40 Americans are dying every day from prescription drug abuse. This is a huge problem, that people need to become aware of. I believe doctors need to be MORE educated about the risk of handing out prescriptions like they’re candy; however, at the same time it is ultimately up to the patient to become aware of what kind of drugs they are in-taking.

  2. lindacheekmd / January 25, 2012 at 12:53 pm

    If they offer training to get a DEA certificate they should also then protect those doctors who do from government persecution. Otherwise they are giving them a false sense of security and just more fodder for the Justice Department cannon

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