Thiele: New York Poised to Implement First Real-Time Prescription Drug Database in Nation

Revolutionary I-STOP database effective Aug. 27

In 2012, New York passed the Internet System for Tracking Over-Prescribing (I-STOP) law aimed at reducing incidents of abuse and misuse of highly addictive prescription medications (Ch. 447 of 2012). With some provisions of the law already in effect, Aug. 27 marks the implementation of I-STOP’s most revolutionary aspect: the country’s first real-time prescription drug database, known as the Prescription Monitoring Program (PMP) Registry.

The PMP Registry is a database that will provide up-to-date information for practitioners to review when researching a patient’s prescription history. Armed with this information, doctors and pharmacists will have the ability to stop a potential drug abuse problem before it starts, ensuring the health and safety of all New Yorkers.

Tasked with maintaining the PMP Registry, the New York State Department of Health (DOH) will protect confidentiality and privacy of every patient by tracking who has access to the information stored in the database. This system is designed to protect the privacy and well-being of our families and New Yorkers will have access to their personal prescription histories.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, over 15,000 people die each year from a prescription drug overdose involving pain killers. In 2011 alone, New York had 12,800 reports of prescription drug abuse.1 This is unacceptable. I-STOP helps limit accidental overdoses by providing pharmacists and physicians with the real-time information they need to safely prescribe drugs to patients. This law takes proactive steps to curb the abuses that lead to so many senseless deaths.

Many provisions of I-STOP have already gone into effect, including the DOH’s safe disposal program and limited refills and prescriptions on two highly addictive prescription pain killers. In February, Hydrocodone (commonly referred to as Vicodin) was moved from a Schedule III drug to Schedule II, limiting the initial prescription for the painkiller to 30 days and eliminating automatic refill status for first-time patients. A previously non-controlled substance, Tramadol (commonly known as Ultram, Ultracet or Ryzolt), was added to Schedule IV on the controlled substances list. These measures and those slated to go into effect in the coming year will help reduce the incidents of abuse we are seeing in our state.

Beginning Dec. 31, 2014, I-STOP’s electronic-prescribing initiative will take effect, requiring practitioners to issue electronic-only prescriptions for controlled and non-controlled substances. Under certain circumstances, waivers and case-specific exemptions will be available. This requirement will ensure that all prescriptions make it into the database the moment they are issued, preventing overdoses via doctor shopping.

The groundbreaking I-STOP law will save lives in our community and will help to prevent tragedies, like the like the Medford pharmacy shooting, from happening ever again.