New York Targets Prescription Drug Abuse – Part II

by Mike Miller November 9, 2011

This is another entry in my series of blogs regarding New York’s efforts to curb prescription drug abuse. The efforts of its politicians and civic leaders is laudable.

Senator Timothy M Kennedy has introduced the Michael David Israel Laws as four separate bills which together represent a comprehensive approach to addressing the prescription drug abuse epidemic. The new bills target training for health practitioners, patient access to information, addiction transition and reform to the controlled substance abuse registry.
The Michael David Israel Laws include:

  • Doctor’s Training Law – Doctors, nurse practitioners and pharmacists would be required to complete three hours of continuing education each year on the impacts and warning signs of addiction, as well as methods to migrate patients from addictive drugs to lower-risk solutions.
  • Patient Information Act – Before prescribing any opiate analgesics or psychotropic drugs, doctors and pharmacists would be required to make patients aware of the dangers and risks of addiction and to provide them with information about coping with addiction and local resources available for help.
  • Addiction Transition Law – The Department of Health (DOH) would be required to promulgate recommendations for prescribers to transition patients from highly addictive pharmaceuticals to lower-risk pain management solutions.
  • Controlled Substance Registry Reform Act – DOH will be required to develop a “real-time” reporting system for the controlled substance registry. Both doctors and pharmacists will be granted access to the controlled substance registry, and they will be required to check the registry for indicators of abuse or addiction prior to writing or filling a prescription. DOH will also develop a system of penalties for failing to check the registry. 

Electronic Medical Records

Congressman Brian Higgins has been an avid supporter of electronic medical record implementation as a means for health professionals to better exchange patient information, avoid medical errors and generally encourage better outcomes. He supported the HITECH Act in 2009 which created the Beacon grant program allowing HEALTHeLINK, the Western New York Clinical Exchange, to become a national outlier in the integration of Electronic Medical Records. To date 290,000 patients in 8 Western New York counties have opted into HEALTHeLINK, which enables doctors to communicate with one another and prevent addiction and abuse before it starts.
In a 2009 survey of 11 countries only 46% of U.S. doctors use electronic medical records compared to over 90% in Australia, Italy, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden & the UK. Higgins says this nation should take swift action toward comprehensive health IT implementation.
Higgins is also cosponsoring the Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act of 2011 (HR1925) which would provide better educational tools for health professionals and consumers, clinical guidelines for methadone use, and federal support for treatment programs.
Terrifying Statistics

From 1997 to 2007, the use of prescription opioids in the United State has increased 402%. Addiction or abuse is an increasing problem in Western New York where prescription drug use 70 percent higher than the state average.
With the number of lives lost and families affected constantly increasing, it is imperative that the public realizes that while doctors may prescribe these medications, they are both highly-addictive and potentially lethal! A good online drug class could help make you ware of the dangers of prescription medication.

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