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Two States Weighing Bills to Require Doctors to Access Drug Monitoring Databases

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New York and Tennessee are considering bills that would require doctors to access drug monitoring databases every time they write a prescription for a controlled substance, according to American Medical News.

Proponents of the Tennessee legislation say it is unlikely to pass in its current form. But backers of bills in both states say the legislation is needed because drug monitoring databases are not being used enough by physicians.

In New York, of the 80,000 health care professionals licensed to prescribe pain medications and other controlled substances, only 47,000 have opened an account to allow them to use the state’s database. As of November 2011, only 2,216 had used the system, according to the article.

A bill introduced in the state Assembly in June would create a real-time database for prescriptions of controlled substances such as oxycodone. The goal is to cut down on illegal trafficking of opioids.

Doctors and pharmacists would enter information into the database every time a prescription for a controlled substance is issued or dispensed. Under current law, pharmacists must file a report twice a month. Doctors in New York are not required to report prescriptions. The bill is designed to address a flaw in the databases that permits information to be updated in an inconsistent and untimely way.

As of mid-January, 48 states have enacted legislation to create a prescription drug monitoring program, and 40 are operational, according to the National Alliance for Model State Drug Laws. “Almost every state I’ve talked to is trying to find a way to increase use of [prescription drug monitoring programs] by prescribers, but in an appropriate way,” said Sherry Green, Executive Director.

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