Treating the problem: Medical, pharmacy boards consider changes to curb prescription drug abuse

Santa Fe New Mexican - Prescriptions for opioid painkillers would get greater scrutiny from doctors and pharmacists under proposals to be considered by the state's pharmacy and medical boards this summer. The plans also aim to better educate everyone involved about the dangers of overprescribing or becoming addicted to pills such as hydrocodone and OxyContin. The move comes as New Mexico's overall drug-overdose death rate is the highest in the country, and new statistics from the state Department of Health show a dramatic rise in the sale of opioid drugs, up 131 percent from 2001 to 2010. "The board was very alarmed at the overdose rate in the state," said state Board of Pharmacy Director Bill Harvey. "We're very serious about reducing the amount of opioids or controlled substances that are available for abuse," he said. On June 21, the board will consider various proposals, including one to increase the number of prescribers who use the state's prescription-drug monitoring program. That electronic database gives doctors and pharmacists access to a patient's prescription-drug history. Providers update the information at least every seven days -- an improvement over the monthly updates that were previously all that was required. Proponents say the database is critical to understanding a patient, but not all doctors use it when writing prescriptions. Read More News New Mexico



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