The commissioner acknowledged that the current prescription system needs to change to improve access to essential pain medication for palliative patients.
Advocates say that this is only the beginning of a long path to improved access, but that it is an important step in the right direction.
The issue of education of medical professionals in the prescription of opioids will need to be addressed, as many doctors have never prescribed these medications because of how complicated this process is.
However, if it is well designed, the new system could remove significant barriers to prescribing opioids in the country.
Currently, doctors are required to issue a unique barcoded sticker with each prescription. These stickers are only available in state capitals and must be collected by the doctor in person. This results in doctors leaving their practice – and their patients – for hours at a time.
Some states charge for these stickers, creating another barrier to access for the people who need their pain controlled.
Diederik Lohman, Senior Researcher at Human Rights Watch, tweeted about the announcement of the new prescription system, saying that it is: “Good news for pain patients.”
The official press release is available in Spanish online.