States seek increase in monitoring of controlled substance prescriptions

Efforts in two states to force physicians who prescribe controlled substances to access a drug monitoring database prior to writing those prescriptions indicate that such databases aren't used enough, according to an article in American Medical News.

In New York, Attorney General Eric Schneiderman proposed a bill calling for the state's Department of Health to create such a database based on real-time information. A report he issued earlier this month showed that prescriptions for narcotic painkillers in the state jumped from 16.6 million in 2007 to 22.5 million in 2010.

Meanwhile in Tennessee, which already uses such a database, two proposed bills--one from the governor and one from a state senator--would expand such a mandate to all prescribers in the state. Gov. Bill Haslam's proposal calls for all prescribers to report updated information on dispensed controlled substances every 24 hours; prescribers currently are required to make such reports once a month.

State Sen. Kay Yager's bill calls for a physician check of the database for every patient, every time certain controlled substances are prescribed, according to amednews.

In May of 2010, several states pushed for Congress to help states to standardize drug-tracking databases across state lines to combat such abuse by patients. A 2005 law--the National All Schedules Prescription Electronic Reporting Act (NASPER)--originally helped states to develop individual tracking databases, but patients moving between states still were able to obtain multiple prescriptions.

To learn more:
- read the amednews article