Database not ready for state's new prescription drug monitoring program
Jan 21, 2013 (The Wisconsin State Journal - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
Details on who gets OxyContin, Vicodin, fentanyl and other controlled substances are being collected in an effort to curb drug abuse, as Wisconsin joins the vast majority of states with prescription drug monitoring programs.
"It's going to stem the tide of doctor shopping or pharmacist shopping," said Tom Engels, spokesman for the Pharmacy Society of Wisconsin.
Under a law passed in 2009, the state's 1,200 pharmacies and other dispensers of frequently abused prescription drugs had to start gathering data on each order filled starting Jan. 1.
A database to collect the information isn't ready, however. The state is negotiating with the vendor and it's not clear when the database might be available, said Greg Gasper, executive assistant with the Department of Safety and Professional Services.
Alabama-based Health Information Designs announced in September it won the contract.
At least 44 states have active prescription drug monitoring programs, according to the National Alliance for Model State Drug Laws. Of the other six states, which still include Wisconsin, only one -- Missouri -- hasn't passed a law to create one.
The programs collect and store drug information so pharmacists, health care providers and others can better track abusers.
In Wisconsin, law enforcement agencies will be able to access the database with a court order. Several law enforcement groups sought more routine access.
Veterinarians tried unsuccessfully to be exempt from the law, saying it will be costly because most don't have electronic records. And few people try to abuse drugs through veterinary clinics, they said.
A bill this year will again seek an exemption, said Kim Brown Pokorny, executive director of the Wisconsin Veterinary Medical Association.
The law requires dispensers to collect data on four categories of monitored drugs and one other medication, tramadol. The drugs, which include Valium and cough syrup with codeine, make up about 20 percent of prescriptions, Engels said.
Not included is pseudoephedrine, a decongestant that can be used to make methamphetamine. It doesn't fall under the law because it is sold over the counter. Pharmacies will continue to collect personal information from purchasers through logs, however.
Information required for the controlled substances database includes the name, gender and birth date of the person receiving the drug plus the number of days of supply and number of refills authorized, among other details.
Pharmacies already collect the data, so they'll mostly just need to learn how to submit it to the database, Engels said.
"We think it should be a seamless process for pharmacies," he said.
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