BALTIMORE, Jan. 31, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Ameritox(SM), the nation's leader in Pain Medication Monitoring Solutions®, continues to address the prescription medication abuse crisis by educating lawmakers, physicians and chronic pain patients about the importance of ensuring that patients have access to needed medications, while keeping communities safe.
Chronic pain impacts one in four Americans – it affects more people than diabetes, cardiovascular disease, stroke and cancer combined – and is the most common cause of long-term disability in the United States. According to a 2011 Institute of Medicine report, chronic pain costs society at least $560-$635 billion annually. It is estimated that between four and eight million people suffering from chronic pain take opioid medications, prescribed by physicians to manage their condition and symptoms.
"With prescription drug abuse rising to epidemic levels in the U.S., physicians treating chronic pain patients have a critical charge: to ensure their patients receive safe, effective treatment, while also reducing the possible risk of misuse, abuse or diversion of these powerful drugs," said Dr. Harry Leider, chief medical officer of Ameritox. "For the millions of patients suffering from chronic pain, access to expert care and medication that can provide relief is crucial. It's important to ensure that policymakers, physicians and communities alike understand the magnitude of the problem and how to improve individual well-being and protect public safety."
Prescription pain medications are now misused and abused more frequently than illicit drugs like cocaine and heroin. However, individuals abusing powerful prescription drugs are typically not patients prescribed these medicines. Instead, teenagers, spouses and others in the home can take pills obtained through a family member's legitimate prescription.
"In recent years, the number of deaths due to drug poisonings has been greater than those due to auto accidents," Dr. Leider said. "In short, it is now more dangerous to have medications unattended in your medicine cabinet than it is to get into a car."
Dr. Leider shared this insight and others during a recent briefing on Capitol Hill regarding the need to provide chronic pain patients with effective treatments. The briefing was sponsored by the Coalition for Excellence in Medication Monitoring, of which Ameritox is a founding member. During his address to legislators and staffers from more than 33 House and Senate offices, Dr. Leider emphasized the value of using tools like pain medication monitoring which provide physicians with vital information necessary to make treatment decisions that can help keep patients safe.
Ameritox also supports recent expert Consensus Recommendations on the use and frequency of urine drug monitoring (UDM) for physicians treating chronic pain patients. Published in July in the journal Pain Medicine, "Recommendations for Urine Drug Monitoring as a Component of Opioid Therapy in the Treatment of Chronic Pain" state that patients treated with opioids for more than three months should be tested routinely. This is based on the fundamental principle that patients on chronic opioid treatments may have a significant degree of risk for misuse; and monitoring is necessary to help maintain patient safety and guide ongoing treatment decisions.
"At Ameritox, we're proud to advance the science of medication monitoring and UDM – and we also know that practical considerations and physician decisions are what drive progress in helping to protect patients," said Scott Walton, chief executive officer of Ameritox. "We provide more than just laboratory services and technology – we are committed to helping physicians gain knowledge that will enable them to use that technology to provide the best possible care for patients."
About Urine Drug Monitoring
Urine drug monitoring, or UDM, allows physicians to monitor the presence of pain medication in a patient's system, helping them to ensure the patient receives adequate medication to provide relief, while also helping to prevent potential misuse, abuse or diversion of powerful narcotics.
Ameritox is the nation's leader in Pain Medication Monitoring Solutions®, offering specialized laboratory testing and reporting services. Ameritox's expertise and innovative science provide physicians with insights and support to enhance and optimize the care of chronic pain patients. Ameritox offers the most thorough pain medication monitoring lab process – Rx Guardian(SM) – with Rx Guardian CD(SM), the only pain medication monitoring process with a proprietary normalization algorithm and a reference database of pain patients clinically assessed for adherence. Patient results are compared against this database, helping physicians assess whether patients are taking their pain medications correctly. Monitoring through prescription drug testing helps physicians make more informed clinical decisions and manage the risks and complexities associated with prescribing pain medications. Ameritox is headquartered in Baltimore, Md. with laboratory facilities in Midland, Texas and Greensboro, N.C. Ameritox can be found online at www.ameritox.com, on Twitter @Ameritox, on Facebook at facebook.com/ameritox, and on YouTube at www.youtube.com/ameritox.
© 2013 Ameritox Ltd. All rights reserved. Ameritox, Ameritox-Medication Monitoring Solutions, Rx Guardian, Rx Guardian INSIGHT and Rx Guardian CD are trademarks of Ameritox. Other trademarks are the property of their owners.
 American Pain Foundation. Facts about pain. Available at: http://www.painfoundation.org/page_fastfacts.asp. June 30, 2008.
 Institute of Medicine of the National Academies Report. Relieving Pain in America: A Blueprint for Transforming Prevention, Care, Education, and Research, 2011. The National Academies Press, Washington DC. (page 5)