Health Care Practitioners Call For National Database To Crack Down On Prescription Drug Abuse

The Associated Press reports on efforts in California, where "a state online drug database went into effect last year to thwart addicts who bounce from doctor to doctor to feed a habit or make a small fortune peddling meds" and efforts to set up a national program "to snare so-called doctor shoppers and curb drug abuse. … Doctors can be hamstrung in making critical decisions about prescribing painkillers if they aren't able to find out if patients filled prescriptions elsewhere. ... More U.S. teens used prescription drugs over any other illicit drug except marijuana, the Office of National Drug Control Policy reported. Forty states have passed legislation to allow prescription drug monitoring programs, but only 34 are operating. Under the National All Schedules Prescription Electronic Reporting Act signed by President Bush in 2005, more than $50 million has been appropriated to states for programs where doctors and other authorized users, such as police in some cases, can access patient records. The law aims to have a coordinated national system, but there are no estimates what that would cost and a majority of the federal money hasn't been allocated." 

"Some privacy groups are concerned databases could invade patients' privacy. Virginia's database was hacked into in April 2009 and millions of electronic records were stolen by a thief still at large" (Risling, 5/2).

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