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Many states began prescription drug tracking to reduce opioid abuse. The programs are called prescription drug monitoring and are state level programs. This means no federal program monitor for conformity across state borders. The DEA oversees none of the prescription drug tracking programs.

What is Prescription Drug Tacking?

Prescription drug tracking is an information system where patients’ prescription history for controlled substances is made available to doctors, hospitals, and other pharmacies. Sharing of this information should help detect potential drug abuse.

Goal of Prescription Drug Tracking

The goal of prescription drug tracking is to reduce or end patient’s visiting multiple pain clinics to get more opioids. This is called doctor shopping. While some do this because they are addicted to the medication, others do so to sell the excess for profit. This is called diversion.

Goal of Prescription Drug Monitoring as Defined by the DEA

… as a tool used by states to address prescription drug abuse, addiction and diversion, it may serve several purposes such as:

  1. support access to legitimate medical use of controlled substances,
  2. identify and deter or prevent drug abuse and diversion,
  3. facilitate and encourage the identification, intervention with and treatment of persons addicted to prescription drugs,
  4. inform public health initiatives through outlining of use and abuse trends, and
  5. educate individuals about PDMPs and the use, abuse and diversion of and addiction to prescription drugs.

Information quoted from the DEA website.

Prescription drug tracking is also intended to end pharmacy shopping. This means using a different pharmacy for each prescribing physician.

Problems in State Level Prescription Drug Tracking

While these programs are reducing prescription drug abuse, they are flawed. Since there is no conformity or required information sharing among state programs, intra-state prescription drug abuse is a problem.

Authorities arrested a drug ring in Nebraska during 2012 that had collected opioid prescriptions from clinics in five states. The ring then filled the prescriptions in Nebraska. It is estimated they had collected 30,000 doses of Oxycodone and Hydromorphone.

Other problems in the Nebraska prescription drug monitoring are just as serious.

  • Patients may opt out of the information system. Those with addiction who do not want help can avoid being detected.
  • The information system has a membership fee for doctors, hospitals, and pharmacies. Half of the state providers have declined the paid membership.
  • While most pharmacies share patient information with the system, many private pharmacies have not. This provides another avenue for addicts to fill multiple prescriptions.
  • State officials are reluctant to spend money on an independent information system or on improvements to the system already in place.

Prescription Drug Tracking Success

Although many states are still working out the details of prescription drug tracking, others see great success with the system. Florida reports a 50% decrease in Oxycodone overdose related deaths. Opioid overdoses in Oregon decline 38%. New York decreased multiple prescribers by 75% and Tennessee saw a decline by 36% for the same.

Do you Know Someone Who is Doctor Shopping?

Doctor shopping is a sign of addiction or potentially a crime. If someone you know is doctor shopping, consider scheduling an intervention. A trained professional will help loved ones confront the person engaged in these activities in hopes to encourage recovery. Call Northlake Recovery at (561)-770-6616 to speak to an addiction specialist now.

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