According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), patients of the Veterans Health Administration are twice as likely to die from accidental overdose than non-Veterans.
Thankfully, action has finally been taken. On April 30, 2019, a press release came out of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) announcing they are collaborating with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to greatly improve drug safety monitoring of prescriptions, including opioids.
The agreement, which was formalized March 21, will give the VA the ability to monitor medical prescriptions issued outside the VA through Medicare Part D.
While the VA currently has a system in place for medication surveillance to ensure safe use by Veteran patients, this new agreement will enable the VA to incorporate up-to-date Medicare prescription information into its safety surveillance operations.
By incorporating prescriptions dispensed through Medicare, the VA has access to more accurate information about the medications used by its patients.
More than 5 million Veterans receive prescription medications through the VA. With the creation of the Medicare Part D benefit, Veterans dually enrolled in VA and Medicare have access to prescription benefits through both the VA and Medicare, creating the potential for adverse drug interactions, duplication of use and greater risk of adverse drug events, including overdoses.
Know that opioid addiction is a serious problem with growing evidence tied to Big Pharma’s aggressive marketing to physicians.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), West Virginia and North Carolina are among the states with the highest death rates due to drug overdose. Nationwide, opioids were involved in 47,600 overdose deaths in 2017 (67.8 percent of all drug overdose deaths). If you have questions about opioid overdose prevention, click here to learn more from the CDC.
Also, if you or a loved one is taking medication for chronic pain related to military service, please take a moment to download this document about safe and responsible patient use.
At Jan Dils, Attorneys at Law, we are hopeful that the VA will continue to do a better job of treating Veterans with chronic pain. Nearly half of those returning from the battlefield struggle with chronic pain, versus a quarter of the general public.
To date, the VA does not have a specific code diagnostic code for chronic pain. If you have chronic pain as a result of your military service, you may want to look at filing a claim. Know your legal rights! Contact Jan Dils, Attorneys at Law, for a free consultation at 877-526-3457. If you would prefer to correspond with us electronically, you can also fill out a form and we will contact you during our business hours.