ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) - Beginning next month, pharmacists and other practitioners who dispense controlled substances in New Mexico will have to report prescription and patient information much more frequently. The state Board of Pharmacy believes that the new requirements that takes effect in April will be a powerful tool in preventing substance abuse.
State officials will use the monitoring system to make sure doctors and other medical providers aren't over prescribing the so-called gateway drugs that lead to heroin use. Those drugs include prescription opioid medications like oxycodone, morphine, methadone and hydrocodone.
The change will require technical upgrades to speed the availability of information. Harvey said the current system has a lag time of 15 to 30 minutes when generating a report, but the new system will make the information immediately available.
About $225,000 in state Board of Pharmacy fees will be reallocated to update the prescription monitoring system. The new rules will require reporting at least once every seven days instead of once every 30 days.
The move is being cheered by the Heroin Awareness Committee, founded in April 2010 by parent Jennifer Weiss, who also works as vice president of information technology at Sandia Laboratory Federal Credit Union. She lost her son, Cameron Weiss, to a battle with heroin addiction.
The group lobbied during the last legislative session for a bill that would have required prescriptions to be reported every 24 hours. That bill, sponsored by Democratic Sen. Bernadette Sanchez, of Albuquerque, failed to be acted upon before the session's end. A second bill, backed by Sanchez and the Heroin Awareness Committee, would have imposed prescription limits for patients with short-term pain and required informed consent from patients prescribed opioids. That bill died in committee, and an amended version also didn't receive approval.
Weiss said her group is not giving up. She and others are also working with Albuquerque Mayor Richard Berry and city officials to develop a media campaign about the dangers of opioid use. They are also discussing an in-patient juvenile treatment center for the Albuquerque area.
Information from: Albuquerque Journal, http://www.abqjournal.com
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