Electronic Rx-Monitoring Bill Will Reach Congress in 2005

DECEMBER 01, 2004
Ken Rankin

New federal legislation being drafted for consideration by the new Congress will require all states to develop high-tech prescription-drug monitoring systems patterned after Kentucky's All Schedule Prescription Electronic Reporting (KASPER) program.

The bill, which is the brainchild of Rep Edward Whitfield (R, KY), will be designed to curb prescription drug abuse by electronically alerting physicians whenever one of their patients attempts to fill a prescription for a Schedule II to IV controlled substance at any pharmacy in the nation. In addition to Kentucky, several other states already have such systems in place, but they report only on intrastate dispensing activities.

As well as serving as a tool for law enforcement, a nationwide Rx-monitoring program would be an important new "source of information for physicians and pharmacists" throughout the country, Sen Whitfield told Congress. The key to the success of such a program will be to curb clearly illicit drug diversion without discouraging physicians from prescribing controlled substances to the patients who need them, he said.

"The last thing we want to do is scare doctors and patients and create a situation where physicians are undertreating pain for fear of being arrested, and patients are underreporting pain out of the same fear," the senator said.