Online Alcohol & Drug Class Could Save Americans $$$$

by: Mike Miller

There is no doubt abuse of opiates and prescription drugs are at alarming proportions right now. People have to be aware that these drugs are potentially lethal and their abuse has to stop.

The conflicting problems of unrelenting chronic pain and prescription drug abuse directly and indirectly cost U.S. taxpayers, insurers and employers more than $323 billion annually, according to a new study released today by Laffer Associates, an economic research and consulting firm, and the Millennium Research Institute (MRI).

A Solution to the Problem?

According to this study, the $323 billion cost could be reduced in part through the widespread implementation of Urine Drug Tests (UDTs), one of the few clinical tools available to physicians to assess whether their patients are taking their prescribed medications, taking additional non-prescribed medications and/or supplementing their prescription drug regimen with use of illicit drugs or alcohol, potentially leading to a greater risk of adverse physiological interactions or diversion. The Laffer/MRI study articulates an economic benefit of in office screening and laboratory UDTs of more than three times their cost, resulting in an aggregate net direct and indirect benefit of more than $25 billion, depending on test frequency.

Laffer Associates used Millennium Laboratories' proprietary database to independently examine test results from more than 260,000 individual patient test profiles over a one year period. Using a logistic regression method, the analysis demonstrates a probability curve where six UDTs per year significantly increase the probability of adherence, reducing the rate of non-adherence by approximately more than 35 percent.

Between 2004 and 2008, visits to emergency rooms for opioid abuse more than doubled. Since 1990, the medical use of opioids has increased by a factor of 10. Deaths from prescription medication overdose now exceed those caused by cocaine and heroin combined. In July, 2011, the Institute of Medicine released a report claiming that more than 116 million Americans suffer from chronic pain at a cost of up to $635 billion. The Laffer/MRI study's independently derived cost figures suggest that a significant portion of the total cost of pain is related to the challenges of a subset of this population experiencing extreme pain and misusing or abusing opioids.

We will have to keep monitoring this. I wonder how it would fit into Obama Care.