Iowa Pharmacy Examiners Want to Track Pain Prescriptions

Pharmacy Times
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Individuals buying prescription painkillers,sedatives, and other addictivemedications may be under the watchfuleye of state regulators every time theyvisit a pharmacy?at least in Iowa.

The Iowa Board of Pharmacy Examinersplans to require pharmacists toregularly report all prescriptions they fillfor drugs such as Oxycontin, Vicodin,or Xanax. The goal is to make it moredifficult for addicts to visit differentphysicians and pharmacies to get multipleprescriptions for the same medications.The board recently voted to set upa computer system that would automaticallytrack such prescriptions and initiatealerts about possible abuses.

More than a dozen states already aretrying similar systems, and supportersbelieve that most of the rest of thecountry will participate. Critics, on theother hand, fear that the project wouldmake physicians worry that if they prescribedneeded medications theywould be branded as drug pushers.Iowa has received a $350,000 federalgrant to establish the project, andadministrators estimate an approximatecost of $100,000 a year to operateit. The board plans to have the systemup and running by the end of 2005.

Although current Iowa law allowsfor the board to implement the plan,the Iowa Medical Society disagrees.The physicians' group believes that theplan should go before the legislaturefor debate. Jeanine Freeman, JD, vicepresident of the medical society, saidthat the group has not decidedwhether to oppose the project, but thatit has serious concerns. "We certainlyare going to be a fly in the ointment,"she informed the board.

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