Doctors, Pharmacists Work With Gov on Painkiller Bill

From Matt Lakin in the News Sentinel</a:
Doctors and pharmacists say they're willing to work with Gov. Bill Haslam's administration on its proposed legislation to combat prescription-drug abuse, although they might call for compromise on some points.
"We know the problem's an epidemic," said Russ Miller, executive vice president of the Tennessee Medical Association. "Now that we've seen a little more of the governor's proposal, we're supportive of measures to tighten up on prescriptions, on who's writing them and on who's getting them. I think we're headed in the right direction. The intent's right, but the pragmatics of it all are something we think we need to look at a little more."
The governor's public safety action plan, announced last week, includes a proposal that would require physicians and pharmacists to check the state prescription drug database before writing or filling painkiller prescriptions. Current state law leaves such checks up to the doctor or pharmacist's discretion, except for registered pain management clinics.


The governor’s proposed legislation, expected to be unveiled today, would require a patient’s prescription profile be checked two to three times a year — before receiving a painkiller prescription and every six months thereafter — and would allow doctors and pharmacists to delegate that job to others. Industry groups say they expect they can live with that mandate. The groups had winced at a proposal by state Sen. Ken Yager, R-Harriman, that would require checking the database every time a prescription’s written or filled.
“I definitely think every prescription is overkill,” said Baeteena Black, executive director of the Tennessee Pharmacists Association. “When we’re dealing with a patient who we know has cancer, why in the world are we going to check every prescription? But I think (the Haslam proposal) is certainly rational and reasonable.”
Tennessee’s prescription-drug database, funded by state fees for health care providers, tracks prescriptions for narcotics such as oxycodone and hydrocodone, which police say now rank among the most abused drugs. Doctors, pharmacists and others must log each prescription written or filled.
Critics say the database doesn’t do enough to head off doctor-shoppers. Suggested improvements include updating the database daily instead of every two weeks, as it’s currently operated. Pharmacists, who pay a fee for updating the data, say they’re worried about the potential expense.
“The cost varies depending on how many prescriptions there are,” Black said. “We have a number of community pharmacies. They’re having to manually put in the data now. Every time we send those reports, it costs us money.”

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