Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations
Health--it's what we all have in common: whether we're trying to maintain our health through good habits or improve our failing health. "Bridges to Health" is 90.5 WESA's health care reporting initiative examining everything from unintended consequences of the Affordable Care Act to transparency in health care costs; from a lack of access to quality care for minority members of our society to confronting the opioid crisis in our region. It's about our individual health and the well-being of our community.Health care coverage on 90.5 WESA is made possible in part by a grant from the Jewish Healthcare Foundation.

Loopholes Remain In PA's Newly Launched Prescription Drug Tracker

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 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.

Ben Allen was the Morning Edition host at KOSU, from March 2012 to October 2013.