Resources for dentists as opioid crisis declared public health emergency

With the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services on Oct. 26 declaring the opioid crisis a public health emergency, CDA reminds dentists, who prescribe approximately 11 percent of prescription opioids annually, of the resources available to them.

CDA’s online opioid resource guide at cda.org/opioid is regularly updated with links to resources as they are published. One resource to help dentists comply with California’s Controlled Substance Utilization Review and Evaluation System, or CURES, is the CDA Practice Support guide “Controlled Substances Prescribing and Dispensing.” CDA members can use this guide to assist them in complying with all laws and regulations related to prescribing and dispensing of controlled substances. In addition to CURES-specific requirements, the guide includes sections on reporting the theft or loss of drugs and forms, disposal of controlled substances and required elements on drug labels.

All California prescribers with U.S. Drug and Enforcement Administration registrations were required to register for CURES 2.0 by July 1, 2016. And under a new law, prescribers will soon be required to check a patient’s prescription history in CURES 2.0 prior to prescribing a Schedule II-IV substance in certain situations, with some exemptions.

Also included in CDA’s opioid resource guide are links to specific sections of the California Dental Practice Act, the November 2015 Journal of the California Dental Association, which focuses on pain management in dentistry, and a series of ADA webinars that address reduction of opioid abuse, preventing prescription opioid diversion, safe use, storage and disposal of opioids and more.

Although the HHS’s emergency declaration provides no additional funding to combat the crisis, the press release notes that the department can “accelerate temporary appointments of specialized personnel to address the emergency (pending any funding needed); work with DEA to expand access for certain groups of patients to telemedicine for treating addiction; and provide new flexibilities within HIV/AIDS programs.”

More than 140 Americans die each day from opioid-related drug overdoses, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention cited in the press release. In California alone, opioid-related deaths were up nearly 30 percent from 2002 to 2014. The Dental Board of California, the Department of Public Health and California lawmakers are all working to reduce the burden of opioid addiction in California, and CDA remains an active partner in these efforts.

Access opioid resources at cda.org/opioid.

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CVS Health launched a new initiative in September to help fight the national opioid abuse epidemic by enhancing opioid utilization management, providing drug disposal kiosks nationwide and aiding local communities in treatment and recovery services. The president and CEO of CVS Health said in a news release that addressing the nation’s opioid crisis calls for a multipronged effort involving many health care stakeholders, including dentists.

In California alone, opioid-related deaths from 2002 to 2014 were up almost 30 percent, and dentists prescribe up to 12 percent of all opioid prescriptions in the U.S. In light of these alarming statistics, the Dental Board of California in August 2017 finalized and adopted a policy statement recognizing the epidemic of opioid abuse in the U.S.