WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Representatives Harold “Hal” Rogers (KY-05) and Frank Wolf (VA-10), along with Senators Rob Portman (OH) and Sheldon Whitehouse (RI), introduced bipartisan legislation to fight prescription drug abuse on March 29.
The Interstate Drug Monitoring Efficiency and Data Sharing (ID MEDS) Act, H.R. 4292, creates an efficient, cost-effective system for states to share information from prescription drug monitoring programs (PMPs). Forty-eight states have authorized PDMPs to facilitate the exchange of information among doctors, pharmacists and authorized law enforcement, but currently, there is no national standard for the exchange of such information across state lines.
“While my region of Southern and Eastern Kentucky became ground zero for the abuse of prescription drugs a decade ago, it is now wreaking havoc on communities small and large and cutting across socioeconomic and gender lines. Prescription drug monitoring programs (PMPs) are one of the most efficient and cost-effective tools in our arsenal to cut back on this abuse, bridging the gap between legitimate medical need and potential misuse,” stated Rogers, Co-Founder and Co-Chair of the Congressional Caucus on Prescription Drug Abuse in the U.S. House of Representatives.
“Now that 48 states have authorized PMPs, it is high time we get these systems linked up to eliminate the interstate doctor shopping which has been fueling the pill pipeline around our country,” Rogers continued. “The ID MEDS Act paves the way for secure prescription data exchange so that doctors and pharmacists around the country will be able to make informed decisions about prescribing these powerful drugs, and law enforcement can more easily root out corrupt drug dealers. I am proud to join my colleagues in introducing this important legislation.”
State-run prescription drug monitoring programs (PMPs) help track vital prescription data so that doctors and pharmacists know when a prescription is being abused, and investigators can identify over-prescribing problems.
In 2002, Rogers and Rep. Wolf established a grant program in the U.S. Department of Justice to support states that plan for, establish or enhance existing PMPs. Since that time, the number of states with authorized PDMPs has tripled from 15 to 48; however, a secure interstate exchange of data among these PMPs will be critical to reducing the interstate doctor shopping that has fueled the pill pipeline in our country.
The ID MEDS Act would ensure secure and reliable interstate exchange of data from prescription drug monitoring programs by establishing a nationally standardized system to share such information. The creation of the system would result in the following:
• Secure, standardized encryption of protected health information and personally identifiable information;
• Protection of state technology investment by avoiding costly rework or having to develop an interface with several hubs in order to share with other states; and
• Provision of an open-standard formatting methodology for sharing data.
The legislation also requires a report to analyze the feasibility of making PMPs interoperable with other relevant technologies and databases, including electronic prescribing systems, DEA databases, electronic health records, and pre-payment fraud-detecting analytics technologies.
“With prescription drug abuse reaching epidemic proportions in the U.S., we need to work together to fight this problem, which is plaguing too many families and communities,” said Portman. “In Ohio there has been a drastic increase in the distribution of prescription drugs over recent years to the point where overdoses are now the leading cause of accidental death. Our bill would strengthen states’ ability to monitor and track prescription drug dispersion, which is a big step forward in the fight to prevent abuse.”
“The improper use of pain relievers and other prescription drugs poses a serious and growing threat to our communities, particularly to teens who are too often unaware of the dangers of misuse and abuse,” said Whitehouse. “Prescription drug overdoses kill more people in Rhode Island every year than car accidents. By standardizing the way states share prescription data, this important legislation would help our health and law enforcement professionals to better identify patterns of distribution and abuse, and ultimately to save lives.”