IHC: OxyContin Patients Must Agree to Drug Test

IHC: OxyContin Patients Must Agree to Drug Test

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OGDEN, Utah (AP) -- Intermountain Health Care is requiring patients prescribed OxyContin to promise not to abuse the drug -- and maybe even submit to drug tests to prove they haven't.

IHC is requiring patients, doctors and pharmacists to sign agreements on the drug's use.

"When you look at the abuse nationwide, it's pretty severe," said Clark Jensen, IHC marketing director for the northern urban region. "We are trying to make sure that we get the drug into the hands of those who are really using it and who really need it."

One patient, who was not identified, was quoted by the Standard-Examiner as saying he felt as if he were being accused of being a drug addict.

"I have very severe pain and use the medication in a responsible manner," the Ogden resident said. "This letter just makes me feel like I'm some kind of addict or drug head. I'm in shock and a little upset by it."

The document issued to patients, titled IHC Health Plans Medication Management Agreement, states that the patient will agree and accept several conditions for the management of pain medication prescribed by the doctor.

The patient must agree not to share, sell or trade the medication. The patient also agrees not to attempt to get the medication from any health-care provider other than the doctor.

Patients must agree that if they run out of the medication early or lose, spill or misplace the medication, refills will not be made.

They also must agree to use just one pharmacy, which they must specify.

The patients must submit to blood or urine tests if required by their doctor to determine if they are complying with the agreement.

OxyContin is a powerful time-released narcotic that eases severe pain for about 12 hours. By crushing the tablet and snorting or injecting it, abusers can get the full effect of the drug at once rather than over a 12-hour span.

Jensen said OxyContin will not be monitored in cancer patients. However, he said, that out of the top 100 users of the drug, only six were cancer patients.

(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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