New federal legislation being draftedfor consideration by the new Congresswill require all states to develophigh-tech prescription-drug monitoringsystems patterned after Kentucky'sAll Schedule Prescription ElectronicReporting (KASPER) program.
The bill, which is the brainchild ofRep Edward Whitfield (R, KY), will bedesigned to curb prescription drugabuse by electronically alerting physicianswhenever one of their patientsattempts to fill a prescription for aSchedule II to IV controlled substanceat any pharmacy in the nation. Inaddition to Kentucky, several otherstates already have such systems inplace, but they report only onintrastate dispensing activities.
As well as serving as a tool for lawenforcement, a nationwide Rx-monitoringprogram would be an importantnew "source of information for physiciansand pharmacists" throughout thecountry, Sen Whitfield told Congress.The key to the success of such a programwill be to curb clearly illicit drugdiversion without discouraging physiciansfrom prescribing controlled substancesto the patients who need them,he said.
"The last thing we want to do isscare doctors and patients and createa situation where physicians areundertreating pain for fear of beingarrested, and patients are underreportingpain out of the same fear,"the senator said.