Some Texas lawmakers say prescription drugs can be bettered monitored by moving the state’s database out of the Department of Public Safety.
House and Senate committees that studied the issue recommend that the State Board of Pharmacy take over the database, the Austin American-Statesman reported Sunday. They also want information to be shared interactively across state lines.
Lawmakers also recommended that physicians should be encouraged, but not required, to check the state’s database before prescribing controlled substances. The goal is to shut down pill mills and fight a national prescription drug epidemic.
Legal drugs are ranked from Schedule II to V based on their addictive potential, with Schedule II being the most addictive.
The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration in October enhanced restrictions on prescribing hydrocodone combination products from Schedule III to Schedule II – a change that experts expect will make doctors become more cautious in prescribing.
Shutting down pill mills and arresting the small percentage of law-breaking doctors who have played a big role in fueling the crisis will save lives, said Dr. Andrew Kolodny, director of Physicians for Responsible Opioid Prescribing and chief medical officer of Phoenix House, which offers addiction treatment services in various states and in Austin.
But “even if you close down every pill mill in the country, it doesn’t end this epidemic,” he said. “It’s the well-meaning doctors and dentists who inadvertently create new addicts.”
Despite a 2010 law to crack down on illegal prescribing, criminal charges were filed against fewer than a third of the 83 doctors punished by the Texas Medical Board in the past three years for drug law violations involving two or more patients, the newspaper reported in December. It also found during the same investigation that some doctors with a history of prescribing violations ultimately give up their license to avoid further scrutiny and freely move on or retire, while others remain in practice.
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