New Jersey drug monitoring program targets doctor shoppers, pill mills
The New Jersey Prescription Monitoring Program has been collecting information from approximately 2,000 pharmacies since September.
In unveiling the program last month, state officials related that one patient obtained more than 2,500 doses of oxycodone and methadone in a four-week period. The patient presented what are now believed to be forged prescriptions to three pharmacies on 14 separate occasions, spread out his visits among the pharmacies, and paid sometimes with cash and sometimes by insurance.
The program was established by state legislation and requires pharmacies to provide data every 15 days on all prescription sales of drugs classified as controlled dangerous substances, as well as human growth hormone. Access to the database is granted to state licensed medical providers and pharmacists who are in good standing with their respective licensing boards.
The information on each transaction includes the patient's name and date of birth; the dates at which the prescription was written and the drug was dispensed; the name, quantity, and strength of the medication; the method of payment; and the identities of the prescriber and pharmacy.
Registered users can access the NJPMP website and request the CDS and HGH prescription history of the patient. The information can help identify people who are doctor shopping -- visiting multiple doctors to obtain prescriptions for the same medications that they have filled at different pharmacies.
Officials say the program will also help detect pill mills in which health care facilities collude in prescribing and dispensing controlled substances outside the scope of the prevailing standards of medical practice.
The announcement of the program comes as participants in the workers' comp system nationwide are discussing the ramifications of opioids abuse. In fact, a new track at this year's National Workers' Compensation and Disability ConferenceŽ & Expo is devoted to Opioid Solutions. The conference, produced by LRP Publications, will be held in Las Vegas this November.
New Jersey officials cited the following statistics in announcing the program:
- The state saw 7,238 admissions to state licensed or certified substance abuse treatment programs as a result of prescription painkiller abuse in 2010, representing a 230 percent increase from 2005.
- Forty Americans die each day from abusing narcotic prescription painkillers, the number has more than tripled in the past decade.
- Opioid pain medication abuse accounts for the most common poisonings treated in emergency departments.
- Nearly 1 million Americans are addicted to an opiate at a cost to insurers of more than $75.5 million a year, according to some reports.
"Nationwide surveys show that many still mistakenly believe prescription medication is harmless and this misperception is fueling a nationwide epidemic that's sending thousands of New Jerseyans into addiction treatment centers each year, and 40 Americans to the grave each day," said Thomas R. Calcagni, director of the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs, where the program will be housed. "The NJPMP is an important tool in our statewide effort to halt the soaring problem of prescription drug abuse and diversion."
Read more at the WorkersComp Forum homepage.
February 16, 2012
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