Ra Supports Effort To Reduce Prescription Drug Abuse

Assemblyman helps create I-STOP prescription drug tracking system

Assemblyman Edward Ra (R- Franklin Square) recently joined Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, Long Island Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependency Executive Director (LICADD) Dr. Jeffrey Reynolds, and members of the Long Island Assembly Delegation to highlight the recent passage of legislation to create the Internet System for Tracking Over-Prescribing Act (I-STOP) to help stem prescription drug abuse. The legislation, which unanimously passed both houses of the Legislature, creates a real-time database that gives physicians information on a patient’s prescription history before prescribing the most powerful and addictive drugs. The bill will require pharmacists to provide information for that purpose, reclassifies hydrocodone and tramadol to reflect the risk of abuse that comes with their use, and kicks off the process to establish “e-prescribing” of controlled substances by the end of 2014 to prevent runaway prescription fraud.

“By establishing a real-time prescription monitoring initiative like I-STOP, New York state has taken a major step toward combating prescription drug abuse and doctor shopping,” said Ra. “Across the state, prescription drug abuse, especially by young people, has turned our medicine cabinets into illicit drug shops. While we may not put an end to this epidemic, I believe we can feel confident that the steps are in place to reduce this problem.”

Illicit use of prescription medicine has become one of the nation’s fastest growing drug problems. According to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), nearly 15,000 people die every year as a result of overdoses of prescription painkillers. In 2010, one-in-20 people in the United States over the age of 11 reported using prescription painkillers for non-medical reasons in the past year. During the period 1999 through 2008, overdose death rates, sales and substance abuse treatment admissions related to prescription painkillers all increased substantially. Sales of opioid painkillers quadrupled between 1999 and 2010. Enough opioid painkillers were prescribed in 2010 to medicate every American adult with 5 milligrams of hydrocodone every four hours for a month. Moreover, an estimated 70 percent of people who abuse prescription painkillers obtained them from friends or relatives who originally received the medication from a prescription.

“It is my hope that through the creation of the I-STOP program, we will be able to prevent further tragic loss of life from illicit prescription drug use,” concluded Ra.