Loopholes Remain In PA's Newly Launched Prescription Drug Tracker

Aug 28, 2016


State Department of Health Deputy Secretary Lauren Hughes announces that Pennsylvania's newly redesigned Prescription Drug Monitoring Program is fully operational during a press conference in Philadelphia.
Credit Pennsylvania Internet News Service

Pennsylvania has officially joined nearly every other state in the U.S. by setting up a program to track prescriptions of powerful drugs like oxycodone and methadone.

It's considered a big step forward to address the addiction crisis.

Doctors, physician assistants and other prescribers can now check the database to see when a patient last received the drugs.

That way, they'll be able to decide whether to write another prescription, or recommend treatment for a potential addiction.

But there are some loopholes in the program...at least to start.

There are no penalties for prescribers who don't check the system.

And it only includes prescriptions written in Pennsylvania.

Dr. Lauren Hughes, deputy secretary with the state Department of Health, says they're addressing the second point.

"By signing that agreement, it allows us to share data across state lines. We're not able to set up the configuration yet, until the system went live, which is today, but we will start very soon prioritizing those states that are neighboring to Pennsylvania," says Hughes.

"So eventually if you are to do a search on a patient, a query on a patient that you're seeing in clinic, you will be able to select whether you want to bring in data from other states into that query, and you'll be able to get that information as well."

Hughes says though there are no penalties for prescribers who don't use the system, licensing boards could consider their use - or lack of it - when looking at a licensing renewal.