FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 1, 2016
Senator Wielechowski calls for simple adjustments to make big improvements in Prescription Drug Monitoring Program
JUNEAU – Senator Bill Wielechowski (D-Anchorage) has introduced legislation to help reduce over-prescription of opioids through statutory changes to policies relating to the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PDMP) database. The electronic database was put in place to ensure adequate patient care and monitor substances with potential for misuse, abuse, or diversion from their intended purpose. These small adjustments will refine and make more robust the existing law.
The toll on Alaskans from prescription drug abuse continues to rise. Fifty-four Alaskans died last year alone from prescription opioid overdoses, and another 33 from heroin overdoses. Many heroin addicts become dependent on opioids through the use of prescription drugs. Better monitoring and control at the front end of the cycle when these drugs are prescribed will have positive outcomes in terms of fewer patients becoming addicted to their prescriptions, fewer turning to illegal drugs because of it, and a reduction in the uncompensated care associated with these public health problems.
This bill seeks to improve the current procedure by streamlining processes, allowing for a free flow of critical information, and the removal of burdensome limitations to access of the database by qualified individuals. The bill would enable providers and pharmacists to provide adequate and efficient care to those who need it, while avoiding inadvertently contributing to the problem of opioid abuse because providers lack relevant information.
This bill provides the following:
- Practitioners would be offered information to enroll in the PDMP at licensure or renewal, to increase participation.
- Providers would receive reports detailing their own prescription history and relating it to the national average.
- Pharmacists could delegate up to one person in their employ to access, input, and receive data from the PDMP.
A recent white paper from the Controlled Substances Advisory Committee, submitted to the Governor, speaks to these very issues, and recommends these implementations.
“It’s not an exaggeration to say that opioid abuse in Alaska is at epidemic levels. The misuse of prescription opioids relates directly to many cases of eventual heroin use and addiction. This is a public health issue that we simply can’t ignore,” said Senator Wielechowski.
For more information contact Jeanne Devon, Press Secretary for the Alaska Senate Democratic Caucus, 907-465-5319.