Published Online: Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Warning that prescription drug abuse and diversion have developed into a "serious problem"for Oregon residents, officials at the federal Office of National Drug Control Policy urged lawmakers in Salem to enact new legislation creating a statewide prescription drug monitoring program.

Similar programs are already in place in 33 other states, and the proposed monitoring system could help to curb the alarming rise in prescription drug diversion in Oregon, said the agency. Between 1999 and 2005, admissions for treatment of painkiller addiction increased by ~130% in Oregon, while the number of prescriptions dispensed by the state's pharmacies for the painkillers oxycodone and hydrocodone has doubled.

The legislation sought by federal officials would require the state Board of Pharmacy to establish a database with which physicians and pharmacists could check to see if patients are "doctor shopping"and "pharmacy hopping."To protect patient confidentiality, the information collected from physicians and pharmacists could not be supplied to law enforcement agencies without a court order.

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