New Report Demonstrates Urgent Need To Pass I-Stop Amid Growing Rx Drug Crisis

Long Island Grand Jury Recommends Implementing Schneiderman Plan

NEW YORK- As the state's prescription drug epidemic continues to grow, a new report demonstrates the urgent need to pass the Internet System for Tracking Overprescribing (I-STOP) Act creating an online database that enables doctors and pharmacists to report and track certain controlled substances in real time. The report, issued by a Suffolk County grand jury, calls on lawmakers to implement a system like I-STOP immediately to address the state's prescription drug crisis.

“New York State’s prescription drug crisis has reached epidemic proportions, and it’s time to take action before another tragedy strikes. This report proves that we cannot afford to wait,” said Attorney General Schneiderman. “The law enforcement community, medical professionals and elected officials on the ground – who see the devastation of this crisis firsthand – stand united to protect our communities by supporting I-STOP. The time is now to enact a real time system to streamline communication between health care providers and pharmacists to better serve patients, stop prescription drug trafficking, and provide treatment to those who need help.”

The Grand Jury's report recommends:

  • Mandating that all prescribers access the state database before issuing prescriptions for controlled substances.
  • The prescription drug database provides access to the entire prescription history of patients and be accessible to all prescribers and dispensers. To properly prescribe any drug, prescribers and dispensers must have full knowledge of prescription medications in a patient‘s history.
  • Cutting the time allowed for dispensers to enter prescription data into the database after dispensing; currently the entry of this information can be delayed up to as much as 45 days after dispensing. Information must be current to be effective. 

The grand jury report also refutes assertions that there is an epidemic of untreated pain; the report concludes that overprescribing is the real problem.

Prescription drug abuse is the country’s second most prevalent illegal drug problem, and a recent report by the Office of Attorney General has documented corresponding data in the state. For example:

  • Statewide prescriptions for hydrocodone have increased 16.7 percent, while those for oxycodone have increased an astonishing 82 percent;
  • In New York City, the rate of prescription pain medication misuse among those age 12 or older increased by 40 percent from 2002 to 2009, with nearly 900,000 oxycodone prescriptions and more than 825,000 hydrocodone prescriptions filled in 2009;
  • In Buffalo, New York’s largest methadone clinic outside of New York City, Catholic Health System, has begun to reorganize its service to accommodate an increase in care needed to treat the number of opiate-addicted expectant mothers and newborns;
  • On Long Island, both crisis and non-crisis admissions to drug treatment that involve opiates other than heroin and have increased at alarming rates. Between 2004 and 2009, the number of deaths due to the toxic effects of prescription opioids more than tripled in Nassau County; and
  • In the North Country, health care facilities have experienced a staggering increase in the percentage of non-crisis admissions for substance abuse involving prescription narcotics, eclipsing cocaine and heroin in Clinton and Franklin Counties, and surpassing even marijuana in St. Lawrence County.

Today’s report comes in the wake of endorsements for the Attorney General’s I-STOP bill from U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, as well as a bipartisan coalition of 24 U.S. Representatives from across New York State, 20 addiction treatment provider organizations, the District Attorneys Association of the State of New York, New York State Association of Chiefs of Police, New York State Association of PBA's, and the Police Benevolent Association of the New York State Troopers, Inc. Bipartisan support in the state Legislature for I-STOP is growing as well, with 37 Senate and 50 Assembly sponsors signed on to the bill.

Attorney General Schneiderman also recently launched a new website, “Share Your I-STOP Story,” that showcases personal stories from New Yorkers who have been impacted by the growing epidemic of prescription drug abuse. As momentum builds for legislative action, the site urges doctors, pharmacists, addiction sufferers and their family members to put a human face on the problem, and help persuade state lawmakers to pass I-STOP.

I-STOP will vastly enhance the effectiveness of the present system. Its goal is to enable doctors and pharmacists to provide prescription pain medications, and other controlled substances, to patients who truly need them. At the same time, it will arm them with the necessary data to detect potentially dangerous drug interactions, identify patterns of abuse by patients, doctors and pharmacists, help those who suffer from crippling addictions and prevent potential addiction before it starts. Prescription drug monitoring programs operate in 43 states.

A copy of the Attorney General’s report on prescription drug abuse is available online at:
www.ag.ny.gov/media_center/2012/jan/ISTOP%20REPORT%20FINAL%201.10.12.pdf

The Attorney General’s “Share Your I-STOP Story” website is online at: 
http://www.ag.ny.gov/share-your-i-stop-story

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