Improvements to Rx monitoring systems worth the expense, study finds; using systems influence doctors’ prescribing decisions

A plan for an ideal prescription drug monitoring system was published today in the New England Journal of Medicine, with its authors concluding spending more money to improve systems is worth the expense.

To improve databases, the paper’s authors recommended “standardization of the type of information submitted to the databases, and a move toward the use of bar-coded prescription paper to more quickly log entries, or a robust e-prescribing system that would eliminate paper and the resulting prescription fraud and ‘doctor shopping’ that contributes to illicit use of these controlled substances,” reports research-reporting service Newswise. (Read more)

Forty-three states, including Kentucky, now have databases to monitor prescriptions for pain relievers and another five states have passed laws to create them, reports Mary Wisniewski for Reuters. Part of the reason for the push is prescription drug abuse is an increasingly big problem, with more people dying from prescription drug overdoses each year than cocaine and heroin combined. Kentucky is a hot spot, with nearly 1,000 people dying from prescription drug overdoses in 2010.

On July 12, a new law will take effect in Kentucky that will make it mandatory for a physician to consult the state drug-monitoring system before writing a prescription for certain drugs for a new patient. Doing so can influence how a doctor chooses to prescribe. A study by the emergency department of the University of Toledo‘s College of Medicine found “doctors or pharmacists who reviewed state prescription data changed how they managed cases 41 percent of the time,” Wisniewski reports

The study found 61 percent of prescribed either no opioid medicine, or less than originally planned, while 39 percent decided to prescribe more. (Read more)

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