The trafficking of prescription drugs was estimated to be a $25 billion per year black market industry when last studied by DEA in 1993 [ref]. Because the U.S. distribution of prescribed stimulants and opioids have each increased by approximately 1800% since then [ref], it is clear that the black market has fully infected our healthcare system. The abuse of prescription medications causes more deaths in the U.S. than cocaine and heroin combined — nearly 40,000 deaths per year [ref] — and causes almost $200 billion in needless healthcare spending each year [ref]. The problem continues to accelerate rapidly, with current Compounded Annual Growth Rates of 27.0% for prescribed opioids and 33.4% for prescribed stimulants [ref]. This is American ingenuity at work, driving devastating societal and fiscal costs.
Physicians have no way to tell which patients are legitimate and which are faking symptoms to get access to addictive medications they can sell on the street or misuse themselves. To avoid liability, medical providers frequently resort to treatment contracts or expensive drug testing.
However, these methods are not effective at determining which patients are compliant with the prescribed regimen and can be trusted, which patients are non-compliant and need intervention, and which patients are criminals.
Existing Initiatives are not Slowing the Epidemic
Current state-mandated Prescription Monitoring Programs (PMPs) have not been effective at slowing the growth of drug trafficking, new addictions, or deaths.
Even though prescribed Controlled Substances are closely monitored by DEA and other agencies, scrutiny stops once the patient leaves the pharmacy. Patients cannot be held accountable for their behavior because reliable tools do not exist.
The problem continues to accelerate rapidly, resulting in nearly $200 billion dollars in excess healthcare costs per year. [ref]
Prescription drugs are the new street drugs.
“Prescription drug abuse is the fastest-growing addiction in the United States. The difference between a “street drug” like cocaine and a prescription pain pill is that in many cases the federal government is paying to feed this addiction with taxpayer money.”
Senator and Chairman Thomas R. Carper
U.S. Senate Committee on Homeland Security & Governmental Affairs [ref]
Harnessing Technology to Provide a New Prescription Management Tool
Vatex is developing an integrated medical device/IT system called Divert-X that monitors medication-use behaviors associated with each individual dose of medication and transmits the information in real-time. White papers are available to explain many aspects of the system.
Real-time, automated data and behavior analysis enables early intervention to prevent new addictions and trafficking. Divert-X will offer healthcare providers and other stakeholders the information needed to identify behavior consistent with prescribed medical use and behavior consistent with addictive or criminal activity.
We expect our integrated, automated, and low-cost approach will decrease prescription drug trafficking and abuse. It will promote patient accountability and decrease medical costs and healthcare fraud that are consequences of prescription drug abuse.
Divert-X will save lives and families by preventing addictions resulting from medical care. Divert-X will reestablish the fundamental relationship of trust between healthcare providers and patients, thus improving care for legitimate patients.