Last year New York became the first state to enact a law mandating that doctors and pharmacists track patients’ prescription medication history. The tracking system, known as I-STOP – Internet System for Tracking Over-Prescribing – went into full effect on August 27, 2013, and now requires doctors to consult a database of a patient’s prescription medication history before prescribing a Schedule II, III or IV controlled substance. According to New York State Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman, the “goal of I-STOP is to enable doctors and pharmacists to provide prescription pain medications, and other controlled substances, to patients who truly need them. At the same time, it will arm them with the necessary data to detect potentially dangerous drug interactions, identify patterns of abuse by patients, doctors and pharmacists, help those who suffer from crippling addictions and prevent potential addiction before it starts.” I-STOP also is expected to assist in patient care by providing a doctor with a patient’s accurate and up-to-date controlled substance prescription history; eliminate the problem of stolen and forged prescriptions being used to obtain controlled substances from pharmacies; crack down on illegal “doc-shopping”–the practice of visiting several different doctors and pharmacies for prescription drugs; facilitate prosecutions of crooked doctors; and achieve significant savings for public and private health insurance programs.
In addition to requiring physicians to consult the database before prescribing certain drugs, I-STOP requires real-time reporting by pharmacists when filling prescriptions for most controlled substances. This makes New York only the second state (after Oklahoma) to require real-time reporting.
Additionally, by December 2014, controlled substances will only be available via e-prescription in New York. It is hoped that this will “nearly eliminate” the problem of forged or stolen prescriptions—used both by addicts and criminal organizations obtaining pills to resell on the street.
I-STOP also mandated the rescheduling of hydrocodone to Schedule II, which ended automatic refills for this highly addictive and abused drug.