Mass. Expands Prescription Drug Tracking, Will Check More IDs

A Massachusetts program requiring patients to show photo IDs when they pick up prescriptions has been expanded to help prevent abuse, overdoses, and contain costs, The Boston Globe reported Jan. 1.

Patients already had to show ID when picking up prescriptions for a category of drugs classified by the government as “Schedule 2″ drugs, which includes OxyContin, Percocet, and other prescription pain relievers. Under the new program, pharmacists will need to ask for ID when patients receive drugs on Schedules 3, 4, and 5, which can include things like cough medicine with codeine, sedatives, and anti-anxiety drugs such as Ativan and Valium.

The state monitors prescription drug purchases to help identify patients who are “doctor shopping” to obtain more prescriptions. One reason the program has been expanded is to cut down on overdoses, which can require expensive emergency medical care and may be lethal.

Researchers have found that deaths from overdose increase when drugs from Schedule 3, 4, and 5 are mixed with drugs from Schedule 2, according to Alice Bonner, who directs the Bureau of Health Care Safety and Quality at the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.

“The rising number of overdose deaths from prescription drug abuse is a very significant problem in Massachusetts,’’ said Bonner. “Doctors and pharmacists can now check the prescriptions that are already being given to a particular patient, so that if there’s a dangerous interaction or if there’s already a lot of narcotics or dangerous drugs being prescribed, they can have a conversation with patient.’’

Patients will not need to show photo ID for most prescription drugs, including medication for blood pressure, asthma, and cholesterol, she said.

The new rules include a procedure to allow for patients without photo ID who need prescriptions filled.

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