- Pennsylvania governor Tom Corbett is expected to sign a bill that will allow physicians, pharmacists and law enforcement agencies to better track prescription medications. The bill will create an electronic database for prescription drugs that the state Department of Health will oversee.
- The information would be input into the system by pharmacists or others dispensing medications and would include patient and physician details, as well as drug and dosage information. The system will track Schedule II through Schedule V drugs.
- 47 states already have similar programs in place.
There is an established correlation between prescription drug abuse and addiction to illegal drugs such as heroin, according to Christine Cronkright, a spokesperson for Corbett. The bill, Cronkright says, would allow physicians and law enforcement to track behavior and intervene "before individuals have the time to get addicted and try to curb some of that from the get-go."
According to Rep. Matt Baker (R), "This is going to save lives; it's going to address doctor shopping, it's going to address drug diversion."
Meanwhile, some groups have voiced opposition stemming from privacy concerns. The American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania suggests that law enforcement will be able to access prescription information too easily and that aggregating so much data in one place leaves the system vulnerable to identity theft. The group also opposes the tracking of Schedule V drugs, like cough medicines with codeine.
"The Drug Enforcement Agency has said the chance of addiction to Schedule V drugs is very low," said legislative director Andy Hoover. "But every kid who gets prescription Robitussin is going to go into this database."