“Doctor shopping,” has become a common practice among prescription drug addicts looking to get their next fix. The premise is simple: One doctor won’t write a prescription for oxycodone? Just try the next one.
Most states, including Washington, have decided the way to combat such a tactic is to put them on the books — create a system that tracks prescriptions, who they go to, and how many pills go with them.
Opiate-based medications like OxyContin can work wonders for pain. But they can also be abused and have nasty consequences — severe addiction and even death. So establishing a program to keep an eye on frequent users was what the Legislature had in mind in trying to curb such drug use.
The bottom line: we have the law here, but the legislature didn’t fund it, according to Lisa Salmi of the state’s Department of Health.
Salmi says the Legislature passed a bill that created the program in 2007. They gave it $683,000, which hired a program manager. But the Legislature declined to fund it further, Salmi said, and the program maanger was laid off, the program stalled.
She said the program would cost $605,500 to implement, and then $562,000 a year to run.
Monitoring programs have taken off around the country, she said. Forty states either have legislation pending or passed. Thirty-three of them have programs up and running.
The Department of Health has set up a Web site that talks about prescription drug abuse, which you can view here.