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From The Desk Of Assemblyman Charles Lavine: August 22, 2013

I-STOP

Starting on August 27, the most revolutionary aspect of New York State’s Internet System for Tracking Over-Prescribing – what we call I-STOP – provisions will be implemented.

The country’s first real-time prescription drug database, known as the Prescription Monitoring Program (PMP) Registry, is set to be up and running.

While some provisions of the I-STOP law designed to reduce incidents of abuse and misuse of highly addictive prescription medications were instituted on the heels of the laws adoption in 2012, the PMP Registry database will provide up-to-date information for practitioners to review when researching a patient’s prescription history.

There have certainly been enough stories in the news relating to physicians who have prescribed highly addictive medications to patients only to find they were also being supplied with the same drugs elsewhere. Statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicate more than 15,000 people die each year from a prescription drug overdose involving pain killers. In 2011, there were 12,800 reports of prescription drug abuse in New York.

The PMP Registry will be monitored by the New York State Department of Health, which will protect confidentiality and privacy of patients by tracking who has access to the information stored in the database, yet allowing each New Yorker access to his or her personal prescription history.

These measures and others set to be implemented in the coming year, including the electronic prescribing initiative that requires practitioners to issue electronic-only prescriptions for controlled and non-controlled substances, are designed to reduce incidents of drug abuse in our state. I am hopeful that this requirement will ensure all prescriptions are included in the database thereby preventing overdoses via doctor shopping.

Reclassification of some drugs has helped as well. Last February, Hydrocodone – or what is referred to as Vicodin – was reclassified from a Schedule III drug to a Schedule II drug thereby limiting the initial prescription for the painkiller to 30 days and eliminating automatic refill status for first-time patients. A previously non-controlled substance, Tramadol, was added to Schedule IV on the controlled substance list.

There is no question that I-STOP will save lives in our communities if everyone does his or her part to comply with the law. As residents of New York we all have a responsibility to make our communities the best they can be.