U.S. Senator Gillibrand Endorses A.G. Schneiderman’s I-STOP Plan To Address Rx Drug Epidemic

Senator Gillibrand Joins Broad, Bipartisan Coalition Supporting the Attorney General’s Online, Real-Time Database To Track Prescription Narcotics

Groundbreaking “I-STOP” Legislation Would Crack Down On Abuses Like ‘Doc-Shopping’ And Rx Forgeries

 

NEW YORK – Amid New York’s growing prescription drug epidemic, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand today endorsed Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman’s legislation to create an online database to report and track certain controlled substances. Support from Senator Gillibrand follows the recent release of a report from the Attorney General detailing the growing prescription drug abuse crisis in every corner of New York State. Statewide, the number of prescriptions for all narcotic painkillers has increased by six million, from 16.6 million in 2007 to nearly 22.5 million in 2010.

“Abuse of addictive painkillers has increased drastically in the last decade, but our state’s regulation and monitoring of these powerful drugs has not kept up,” said U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand. “I strongly support Attorney General Schneiderman’s I-STOP bill, which would help to rein in doctor shopping, prevent the use of forged prescriptions, and identify patients in need of addiction treatment. It’s the right solution to tackle the growing epidemic of prescription drug abuse.”

“From national leaders like Senator Gillibrand to law enforcement officials and health care advocates, support is growing every day to create the I-STOP database to address the epidemic of prescription drug abuse here in New York,” said Attorney General Schneiderman. "The time is now to streamline communication between health care providers and pharmacists to better serve patients, stop prescription drug trafficking, and provide treatment to those who are addicted.”

Prescription drug abuse is the country’s second most prevalent illegal drug problem, and recent reports and studies have 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.

New York’s current prescription monitoring program requires pharmacists to report controlled substances they dispense at least once every 45 days. There is no tracking of prescriptions written and there is no mechanism whatsoever for pharmacists to ensure that a prescription presented is valid.

Supported by a broad coalition of law enforcement, health care experts and lawmakers, 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.

Attorney General Schneiderman’s I-STOP legislation:

  • requires the Department of Health to establish and maintain an online, real-time controlled substance reporting system to track the prescription and dispensing of controlled substances;
  • requires practitioners to review a patient's controlled substance prescription history on the system prior to prescribing;
  • requires practitioners or their agents to report a prescription for such controlled substances to the system at the time of issuance;
  • requires pharmacists to review the system to confirm the person presenting such a prescription possesses a legitimate prescription prior to dispensing such substance; and
  • requires pharmacists or their agents to report dispensation of such prescriptions.

These enhancements of the state’s prescription drug monitoring program are all necessary to assist in patient care by providing a doctor with a patient's accurate and up-to-date controlled substance prescription history; eliminate the problem of stolen and forged prescriptions being used to obtain controlled substances from pharmacies; crack down on illegal ‘doc-shopping,’ the practice of visiting several different doctors and pharmacies for prescription drugs; facilitate prosecutions of crooked doctors; and achieve significant savings for public and private health insurance programs.

Prescription drug monitoring programs operate in 43 states.

A copy of the Attorney General’s report on prescription drug abuse is available online at: Click Here.

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