ALBANY — Law-enforcement officials are praising the State Legislature’s passage of a bill to set up a real-time system to record prescriptions of controlled substances.
The Internet System for Tracking Over-Prescribing Act will create an online database to enable doctors and pharmacists to track controlled narcotics.
The new law will require physicians to consult the database to determine a patient’s prescription history before prescribing a schedule II, III or IV controlled substance.
That is expected to help deter people who visit different doctors to obtain multiple prescriptions.
For more than a year, district attorneys from Clinton, Essex and Franklin counties have all been pressing for legislation that would curb prescription-drug abuse in this area and across the state.
SECOND IN NATION
k is the second — and largest — state to require pharmacists report when schedule II, III, IV or V prescriptions are filled.
New York state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, who introduced the legislation, called its passage a major victory for the people of New York state.
“With I-STOP, 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,” he said in a press release.
“I applaud the legislature for taking action to curb the prescription-drug crisis that has impacted families in every corner of this state and Gov. (Andrew) 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.”
Essex County District Attorney Kristy Sprague said that any legislation to curb the accessibility to prescription drugs for people who intentionally misuse them is a step in the right direction.
“Our last few drug busts have been prescription medications and defendants pharmacy/doctor switching,” she said Tuesday by email. “Having a system that doctors and pharmacists can immediately see the issuance of the last script and when it was filled will be a huge benefit.
“Many pharmacies cannot see that a patient just had a prescription filled less than two weeks prior and is now trying to fill another script written from another health-care provider. This is a very lucrative business for drug peddlers, and I am in favor of any measures that place additional safeguards on the access to these prescription medicines.
“There are patients who legitimately need and use medications, and this type of legislation will ensure (that) those who should have their medications have them and (that) those who don’t will not have the ability to access more unnecessarily.”
New York will also be one of the first states to schedule mandated electronic prescribing for controlled substance, which will take place by December 2014.
That is expected to dramatically reduce the problem of forged or stolen prescriptions, which are used by addicts and criminal organizations to obtain pills to resell on the street.
It also moves hydrocodone to schedule II, which ends automatic refills of that often-abused drug.
In a report issued in January, Schneiderman’s office reported that prescriptions for hydrocodone had increased 16.7 percent and oxycodone prescriptions rose 82 percent in 2011 compared to the previous year.
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. Those cases outnumbered admissions caused by cocaine and heroin abuse in Clinton and Franklin counties.
The legislation was supported by U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand and 24 other U.S. representatives across the state, 20 addiction-treatment organizations, the District Attorneys Association of the State of New York, the New York State Association of Chiefs of Police, the New York State Association of Police Benevolent Associations and the Police Benevolent Association of the New York State Troopers.
Email Dan Heath