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Jul 17, 2012 2:27 PMPublication: The East Hampton Press

State Legislation Seeks To Curb Prescription Drug Abuse

Jul 19, 2012 1:05 PM

New state legislation geared at cracking down on prescription drug abuse—expected to take effect sometime next year, pending Governor Andrew M. Cuomo’s signature—is a step in the right direction but not a panacea, according to local doctors, pharmacists, police and those in the substance abuse treatment fields.

The Internet System for Tracking Over-Prescribing Act, or I-STOP, will create the first real-time prescription drug database in the country, letting New York physicians know patients’ prescription histories before prescribing the strongest and most addictive medications.

Creating the database is an attempt to make doctors better aware if patients are getting the same prescriptions from two different physicians filled at different pharmacies, without either the doctors or pharmacists knowing—a practice often referred to as “doctor shopping” and used by drug abusers to get more drugs. Under the measure, pharmacists will be required to provide information about what prescription drugs they have provided.

As part of the legislation, hydrocodone and Tramadol, two commonly prescribed painkillers, would be reclassified to better reflect the risk of abuse that comes with their use. In addition, I-STOP looks to begin a process of “e-prescribing” controlled substances—or issuing electronic-only prescriptions directly to pharmacies—by the end of 2014, in an effort at curbing rampant prescription fraud.

“It’s often very easy for a person to get the same prescription from two different doctors filled at separate pharmacies, without the doctors or pharmacists knowing,” State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele Jr. said in a statement. “This legislation would prevent that from happening, and subsequently keep dangerous drugs out of the hands of abusers.”

The legislation, which was approved earlier this year by both the State Senate and Assembly, has not yet been delivered to the governor, but he is expected to sign it, according to Mr. Thiele.

Tom Schroder, a registered pharmacist at Barth’s Pharmacy, which has locations in Westhampton Beach, Riverhead and East Moriches, said he thinks the legislation is long overdue.

“When you’re talking about trying to curb the doctor shopping, hopefully, they’ll get everyone on the same page,” he said. Currently, he and other pharmacists have to send a report to Albany on the 15th of every month documenting what prescriptions they have filled, meaning that the new electronic database, which will be updated in real time, would be more up to date. He said the problem on the East End has gotten significantly worse over the past decade.

But Dr. Jeffrey L. Reynolds, the executive director of the Long Island Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, said that while he supports the legislation, it is not an end-all to the abuse problem.

It paves the way toward greater accountability among doctors and pharmacists, he said, but added, “I don’t want elected officials to think their job is done. As they pat themselves on the back, I want them to understand that this is kind of the very least we can do if we want to enhance public health. … that we’re making treatment available to those struggling and not just cutting off the supply.” He said the supply issue should have been dealt with long ago, and because it wasn’t, a “whole bunch of addicted folks out there” fell into deep addiction.

“It’s kind of like driving up to a raging fire—the pharmacies and physicians are the gas lines that are pumping the oxygen into this epidemic—and, finally, we shut down the gas line. That doesn’t mean the fires automatically go out,” Dr. Reynolds said. “Now we’ve got to do the cleanup work necessary to help those folks who are actively struggling, get them through the doors of treatment centers and work with the younger generation to ensure they don’t wind up going down this road as well.”

Dr. Reynolds said the prescription drug abuse is widespread and is not more or less pronounced in areas of Southampton or East Hampton towns than any other.

Recent State Department of Health figures show the Montauk and Westhampton areas as having high numbers of prescriptions filled for three kinds of narcotics, oxycodone, oxymorphone and hydrocodone, but Dr. Reynolds said neither of those communities is a hot spot for pill abuse. “It might be that there are a fair number of folks in those communities who legitimately use these pain medications,” he said, noting that there are hotbeds of heroin and other drug addictions on Long Island, but, in terms of pills, “neither Westhampton nor Montauk fit that bill.”

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Will this Law apply to the Police too? Namely SHTPD Street Crime Officers.
By G (342), Southampton on Jul 27, 12 1:51 PM
How long will this stupidity continue? The USA has over seven million citizens in prison, on probation or on parole. The largest category of inmates is non-violent offenders jailed for drug possession.

Jailing people for use of unapproved recreational drugs doesn't work.

Putting additional laws on the books that cause doctors to limit appropriate prescription of unapproved recreational drugs doesn't work.

The only thing that does work is treating recreational drug use ...more
By highhatsize (4217), East Quogue on Jul 27, 12 2:37 PM