Tennessee Seeing Success in Using Prescription Database Tool to Fight Prescription Drug Addiction

Tennessee Seeing Success in Using Prescription Database Tool to Fight Prescription Drug Addiction

Each state is considering its own measures to stop illegal prescription drug abuse. In Tennessee, however, significantly increased usage of a national prescription database tool means it may not be as easy as it used to be to get prescription drugs – especially hydrocodone.

The database tool, which is shared across the country, is being managed in Tennessee by its state Board of Pharmacy and gives pharmacists the ability to review key information and ensure a patient truly needs a medication before giving it.

Results in Tennessee show a decline in prescriptions for controlled substances, which is encouraging information across the country as other states also implement the 2005 National All Schedules Prescription Reporting law, also known as the NASPER database. NASPER was designed to connect information about prescription drug use across the country and was reauthorized in 2010.

Since its inception, the Tennessee pharmacists’ usage of the NASPER database tool has helped identify patients who are going to various locations requesting a certain drug, known as doctor shopping. The rate of requests for certain prescriptions has also declined since pharmacists began using the database.
The Tennessee Board of Pharmacy said that from 2006 to 2009, the number of prescriptions placed into the database declined by more than 2 million, but the number of pharmacists and other people utilizing the database to search for patient information climbed exponentially – rising by more than 750,000 users.
Representatives from the Tennessee board of Pharmacy say not only has the level of controlled substances given to patients significantly declined, but the tool has also allowed law enforcement officials to build stronger collaborations with pharmacists as they work to reduce illegal prescription use.

Statistics indicate that the U.S. uses more than 80 percent of all opioid prescription medications, and more than 66 percent of global illicit drugs. A ten-year data measure, spanning 1992 to 2002, said the rate of death certificate listings for poisonings related to opioid painkillers rose more than 91 percent.
As drug abuse of prescribed medications reaches what some call an epidemic in the U.S., NASPER shows some promising results. However, while physicians and pharmacists can both access information stored in NASPER, some critics say the tool could make it tougher for patients to acquire needed medications.

As of May 2010, 35 states have implemented NASPER database programs. At least two states, Connecticut and Kentucky, have begun to operate the database as shared information between their state and the rest of the U.S. – an effort designed to stop physicians who over-prescribe painkiller medications, as well as patients who visit multiple doctors to get them.
Officials hope NASPER will help doctors in their fight against prescription drug abuse and create minimum requirements for state prescription drug monitoring programs (PDMPs) while making a significant impact on rates of abuse of prescribed medications.
Annually, more than 20,000 people lose their lives to an overdose of a prescribed drug – and so the database is likely to save lives as well, especially if trends in states like Tennessee continue to show success with the tool.

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