On Thursday, the Massachusetts state Senate is scheduled to vote on a bill (S 2072) that would require physicians to check an online database before prescribing certain prescription painkillers, the Boston Globe reports.
Goals of Legislation
The measure, by Sen. John Keenan (D-Quincy), seeks to reduce "doctor shopping" among those who misuse powerful prescription drugs such as morphine and oxycodone (Conaboy/Bierman, Boston Globe, 2/1).
Doctor shopping refers to the practice in which people with substance misuse issues travel from doctor to doctor in search of prescriptions for narcotics (iHealthBeat, 12/22/11).
According to AP/CBS News, increased use of the online database could help physicians screen patients for a history of drug misuse. It also could help law enforcement and public health officials investigate potential fraud.
Requirements for Physicians
Participation in the state's online prescription drug monitoring program currently is voluntary, but Massachusetts officials say that only 1,700 of the state's 40,000 prescribers have registered (Salsberg, AP/CBS News, 1/31).
The bill would require the 30% of Massachusetts physicians who write the majority of narcotics prescriptions to register for access to the database by Jan. 1, 2013. The remaining physicians would need to register when their licenses to prescribe controlled substances come up for renewal (Boston Globe, 2/1).
Physicians who fail to register for the program might not have their prescribing license renewed (AP/CBS News, 1/31).