Healthcare Business News
Nirav Shah, commissioner of the state's Department of Health

New York applauds early success of state's prescription drug-abuse monitoring system

By Beth Kutscher
Posted: February 5, 2014 - 1:45 pm ET

New York state's expanded prescription drug-abuse monitoring program has seen “dramatic” results in less than six months, officials said in touting the early success of the initiative.

The state's Internet System for Tracking Over-Prescribing Act, or I-STOP, aims to crack down on “doctor shopping”—or the practice some addicts use to obtain prescriptions for painkillers by seeking care from multiple doctors.

And it's had some quick success, Dr. Nirav Shah, commissioner of the state's Department of Health, reported at a public hearing on the 2014-15 executive budget proposal. Calling I-STOP a “national model” for controlling substance abuse, he reported that there's been a 74.9% decrease in doctor shopping in the fourth quarter of 2013 compared with the same period the previous year.

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The program went into effect last June and created a prescription monitoring registry that includes real-time information from pharmacies about which controlled substances are being dispensed.

Since August, more than 66,000 clinicians have run 7 million prescription checks on 2.9 million patients, according to a news release. I-STOP replaced an earlier program that was used by only 5,100 providers and monitored less than 466,000 patients in three and a half years.

The program has not yet compiled data on overdoses or addiction treatment rates.

Another aspect of the law reclassified the drug hydrocodone, one most commonly prescribed controlled substances, from Schedule III to the more restrictive Schedule II—a move that the Food and Drug Administration recently followed.

The change resulted in 19.6% fewer hydrocodone prescriptions in the second half of last year compared with the latter half of 2012, the release said.

The law also created secure prescription drug disposal sites at police stations across the state, and will make electronic prescribing of controlled substances mandatory as of March 2015.

Follow Beth Kutscher on Twitter: @MHbkutscher

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