2012-06-22 / Top Stories

Rx Drug Abuse Legislation Passes In State

Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman announced that the NYS law bodies have unanimously passed the Internet System for Tracking Over-Prescribing Act, or I-STOP, a national model for other states and Congress to follow to curb prescription drug abuse, the nation’s fastest growing drug problem. Introduced in June of 2011 by Schneiderman, I-STOP is an online database that enables doctors and pharmacists to report and track controlled narcotics in real time. The bipartisan legislation – the first joint Attorney General-Governor program bill in recent memory – overwhelmingly passed the Assembly by a margin of 116-0 and the Senate 58 to 0.

“This is a major victory for the people of New York. With ISTOP, we are creating a national model for smart, coordinated communication between health care providers and pharmacists to better serve patients, stop prescription drug trafficking, and provide treatment to those who need help,” Schneiderman said. “I applaud the Legislature for taking action to curb the prescription drug crisis that has impacted families in every corner of this state, and Governor Cuomo for his leadership and commitment to signing I-STOP into law. Now, New York will be a national leader in protecting the public from the devastating consequences of prescription drug abuse.”

Among the features of groundbreaking legislation passed today:

I-STOP will make New York the first state in the nation to mandate that physicians consult a database of a patient’s prescription history before prescribing a schedule II, III, or IV controlled substance. Accurate patient histories and better training will help physicians detect doctor shoppers and better serve patients at risk of addiction. Doctors can also use this information to avoid potentially dangerous drug interactions.

I-STOP will make New York the largest, and only second state in the nation, to require real-time reporting by pharmacists when schedule II, III, IV or V prescriptions are filled.

I-STOP will make New York one of the first states to schedule the universal mandate of e-prescribing for controlled substances in December of 2014. The regulations will be promulgated by December 2012. This will nearly eliminate the problem of forged or stolen prescriptions — used both by addicts, and criminal organizations obtaining pills to resell on the street.

I-STOP will reschedule hydrocodone to Schedule II, ending automatic refills for this highly abused drug.

I-STOP will schedule tramadol, a ‘drug of concern’ to Schedule IV (it is currently unscheduled).

I-STOP will establish a safe disposal program providing a place for New

Yorkers to get rid of expired and unneeded drugs to ensure that they are not left in medicine cabinets for children or addicts to access.

I-STOP will also deter fraud against private health insurers and the state government. Taxpayers have been paying for a substantial portion of the over-prescribed pills through the Medicaid program. Each ring of collusive patients and prescribers prosecuted by the Attorney General’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit represented a loss to the State of at least $1 million. Schneiderman first introduced the I-STOP bill last June. In January of this year, the Attorney General released a report detailing the scope of the prescription drug epidemic in New York State and demonstrating the need for action by the Legislature. According to the Attorney General’s report:

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 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.

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.

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