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Senate of Pennsylvania
Session of 2013 - 2014 Regular Session


Posted: December 18, 2012 03:00 PM
From: Senator Patricia H. Vance
To: All Senate members
Subject: Memo #4 - Prescription Drug Monitoring Program
I intend to introduce legislation which would create a prescription drug monitoring program in the Commonwealth to expand upon the types of drugs already monitored and increase access for pharmacists and health care practitioners with prescriptive rights.

Currently, the Attorney General’s office houses a prescription drug monitoring program (PDMP) with dispensing data of Level II controlled substances. A private vendor collects this information from pharmacies and it is currently accessible by law enforcement. My legislation will build on this premise by enhancing the current program and extending a portion of the oversight and operation to the Department of Health.

The dispensing information collected will be expanded to include all drugs up to and including Level V controlled substances. This will cover drugs such as anabolic steroids, hydrocodone/codeine, and benzodiazepines such as Xanax and more closely align Pennsylvania with other state prescription monitoring programs. The Attorney General’s Office will continue to oversee the portion of the PDMP accessible by law enforcement and the Department of Health will be given the responsibility to oversee the portion of the program accessible by pharmacists and prescribing practitioners. The objective of expanding the access of the program to the Department of Health is to prevent “doctor shopping” by allowing practitioners access to other patient dispensing data. It will also be beneficial to pharmacists to help identify fraudulent prescriptions before they are dispensed.

Prescription drug abuse is fast becoming one of the most important public health concerns in Pennsylvania. Pennsylvania is among the top ten states in the U.S. for drug overdose rates per capita, with some 15 per 100,000 persons dying each year. Prescription drugs account for three quarters of those unnecessary deaths.

Use of prescription drugs among teens is particularly alarming. Prescription drugs are involved in more than a third of all first time illegal drug use among teenagers. The cost burden of prescription drugs is borne by government programs like Medicare and Medicaid, our criminal justice system, private citizens through higher premiums and the loss of productivity in our economy.

Introduced as SB1180