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COLUMN: Study reports prescription drug abuse on the rise; I-STOP to help combat abuse

— A study out last week reports that prescription drug abuse is on the rise. Thankfully this session we passed the I-STOP bill. This legislation creates the Internet System for Tracking Overprescribing (I-STOP) program. This is a “real-time” registry for doctors and pharmacists to track prescriptions.

The study out last week reports that taking prescription painkillers without a medical need increased 75 percent from 2002 to 2010. More than 15,000 people overdosed on pills such as Oxycotin and Vicodin in 2009 – more than double in 2002. The legislation passed both houses and awaits delivery to the Governor.

New York is among the first states to pass electronic prescription tracking system legislation. The legislation also provides improved education and awareness of prescription-drug abuse and creates a safe disposal program for prescription drugs.

I was pleased to support this measure in the Assembly and I hope this helps curb abuse. According to the legislation, one in 20 people in the United States over the age of 11 reported using prescription painkillers for non-medical reasons. Further, prescription drug abuse is increasingly linked to criminal, violent or self-injurious behavior, family conflicts and increased costs to businesses and the health care system.

Many people who become addicted to opiates will go from one doctor to the next, to try and receive prescriptions, unbeknownst to the doctors. This legislation would create a registry so that any controlled substances prescribed to a patient would be logged in the registry; before doctors prescribe any controlled substances, they would need to cross-reference the registry. Pharmacies would also need to consult the registry before dispensing any controlled substances. It also provides immunity from civil liability to practitioners and pharmacists who have acted in good faith, in cases where the registry was not updated.

After all the tragedies relating to prescription-drug abuse over the years, I’m pleased that New York finally has a plan to combat this serious problem. Addiction can occur rapidly, especially with these narcotics. This is a case where, collectively, we can make technology work toward a common good. Through electronically tracking prescriptions, we can better stop over-prescriptions from occurring. I’m pleased action has been taken on this important program. I sincerely hope that with better tracking of prescription drugs, especially narcotics, we can help stop abuse before it begins.

Assemblyman Will Barclay represents residents of Assembly District 120, which includes Lysander. He can be reached by mail at 200 North Second St., Fulton, NY 13069, by e-mail at barclaw@assembly.state.ny.us or by phone (598-5185).

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