Are Partial-Fill Prescriptions an Answer to the Maryland Opioid Epidemic?

A significant number of Maryland prescription drug injuries are caused by opioid use and abuse. Over the last decade, the number of deaths that were related to opioid medications has dramatically increased from about 35,000 in 2007 to over 70,000 in 2017. In an effort to curb these stark statistics, experts began to consider why opioid abuse has become more prevalent over the past few years and what new law or policies could help decrease opioid abuse.

One idea that is starting to gain traction is the concept of partial-fill prescriptions. Under a partial-fill prescription policy, patients who are prescribed certain high-risk opioid medications are given only a few days’ worth of medication at a time. The idea behind the policy is that if patients are given fewer pills they will be less likely to take more than they need. Additionally, proponents of a partial-fill policy hope that it would reduce the number of people who sell some or all of their medication.

According to a local news report, Tennessee recently enacted a partial-fill policy under which patients would only be provided some of their medication on their first visit to the pharmacy. Patients could obtain the rest of their medication, if needed, by returning to the pharmacy once they run out of medication. Under the new policy, pharmacies are responsible for inputting patient data into a state-wide database.

Some pharmacies, however, have complained that implementing the new policies is difficult. For example, existing pharmacy software may not accommodate a partial fill or a patient’s prescription. Additionally, there can be difficulties when working with insurance companies or state regulatory agencies.

It also stands to reason that by requiring patients to return to the pharmacy more often, a partial-fill policy will increase the already heavy burden placed on pharmacists. Indeed, most experts agree that the cause of most pharmacy errors can be traced back to pharmacist distraction. To the extent that a partial-fill policy further burdens pharmacists by requiring they fill smaller, more frequent prescriptions and then input patient data into a database, the policy may be increasing the risk of error.

It remains to be seen how partial-fill policies impact a state’s pharmacy error rate, however, surely experts will be tracking these numbers in the coming years.

Have You Been the Victim of a Maryland Pharmacy Error?

If you or a loved one has recently been the victim of a Maryland pharmacy error, you may be entitled to monetary compensation. At the law firm of Lebowitz & Mzhen, LLC we represent patients who have suffered injury after being provided the wrong medication, wrong dose, or wrong instructions. We have a decades’ long history of advocating on behalf of the injured in Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, D.C. and know what it takes to succeed on our clients’ behalves. To learn more, call 410-654-3600 to schedule a free consultation today.

More Blog Posts:

Statutes of Limitations in Maryland Pharmacy Error Cases, Pharmacy Error Injury Lawyer Blog, January 23, 2019.

Blood-Pressure Drug Recall May Put Maryland Patients at Risk, Pharmacy Error Injury Lawyer Blog, January 9, 2019.

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