Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin (D) is pushing for changes that would provide law enforcement officials with greater access to a state prescription drug monitoring database, the Burlington Free Press reports.
The Vermont Department of Health operates the prescription drug tracking database to help health care providers identify fraud and misuse.
Under the current system, pharmacists must upload prescription transactions every seven days. If questionable prescription patterns emerge, the network issues an alert to health care providers.
The state health department rarely provides law enforcement officials with access to the drug tracking data.
Nearly all of the 47 other states that run prescription drug monitoring networks allow police to access the systems after receiving clearance from a judge or another approving entity. In seven of the states, law enforcement officials operate the prescription drug monitoring network.
Vermont law enforcement officials said greater access to the state tracking database would help them investigate cases of prescription fraud.
The Vermont Medical Society has not taken a position on whether police should have access to the network. However, the society said that if the change were made, access to the data should be limited to the state's two prescription fraud investigators and should require approval from the state health commissioner (Hemingway, Burlington Free Press, 10/22).