Pa. Passes Rx Database Bill; N.H. Rx Database Registration Begins

October 17, 2014 in News

On Thursday, the Pennsylvania Senate voted 46-2 to approve a bill (SB 1180) that would give medical professionals and law enforcement access to a prescription drug database to help reduce drug misuse, PennLive reports.

The measure, which passed the state House on Tuesday with broad support, now heads to Gov. Tom Corbett (R), who has expressed support for the bill (McKelvey, PennLive, 10/16).

The bill is intended to help protect against “doctor shopping,” in which patients receive prescriptions for controlled substances from multiple doctors (Snyder, ABC27, 10/16). According to the state Department of Health, there were 1,909 accidental prescription drug overdoses in the state in 2011, an increase of nearly 150% since 2001 (PennLive, 10/16).

The measure would establish a new drug monitoring program that would include prescription information on Schedule III, IV and V controlled substances. The state’s current program only tracks Schedule II controlled substances.

Under the bill, the prescription drug database would be maintained by the state Department of Health. The database would be accessible to law enforcement with a court order and to physicians to monitor controlled substances that are prescribed to their patients (ABC27, 10/16).

The bill has gained support from several state officials and medical organizations, but some privacy advocates have expressed concerns about the measure (PennLive, 10/16).

Pennsylvania Medical Society President Bruce MacLeod called the bill’s passage historic, but said that some physicians believe the bill should be changed to further protect access to patient data.

Meanwhile, the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania opposes the measure and has argued that it undermines the privacy of patients.

However, state district attorneys say the bill’s privacy restrictions are stronger than those in at least 27 states with prescription drug databases (ABC27, 10/16).

N.H. Rx Database Registration Begins

In related news, New Hampshire’s prescription drug database on Thursday began accepting physician and pharmacist registrations, the AP/Washington Times reports.

In 2012, then-Gov. John Lynch (D) signed legislation to create the database, which will allow physicians to review a patient’s history prior to prescribing or dispensing controlled medications. New Hampshire received a federal grant to implement the program earlier this year (AP/Washington Times, 10/16).

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