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COLUMN: I-STOP becomes law to help combat prescription drug abuse

— New York has a new law called I-STOP that was recently signed by the Governor. I was glad to support this in the Assembly earlier this year. I-STOP is short for “Internet System for Tracking Overprescribing.” This is a “real-time” registry for doctors and pharmacists to track prescriptions. This will help limit those who abuse painkillers and other prescription drugs from “doctor shopping.”

Many people who become addicted to opiates visit several doctors to try and receive multiple prescriptions. This law will create a real-time registry so that any controlled substances prescribed to a patient would be logged; before doctors prescribe any controlled substances, they would need to consult 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.

It will take some time for the Commission of Health to make the electronic database fully functioning to monitor and report this information, as all doctors will need to switch over to electronic prescriptions. As a result, doctors and pharmacies will not be required to comply with the new law until August 2013 but are encouraged to do so as soon as possible. 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 for physicians and pharmacists and encourages using these drugs only when there is a legitimate need.

Effective immediately is a controlled substance disposal program. This will allow anyone in the public to voluntarily surrender controlled substances in a safe and secure manner. These sites will be operated by law enforcement. It is estimated that 70 percent of the abused prescription medications are obtained from friends or relatives. The Department of Health will work with local police departments to establish secure disposal sites for controlled substances at local police stations. Under previous law, people could only dispose of controlled substances during an approved take-back event or, various methods of self-disposal that are either burdensome or harmful to the environment.

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