New York’s New Prescription Drug Laws Pending in the Legislature

New York State Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman has introduced legislation  in the State Legislature that would aggressively expand New York’s prescription drug laws and existing Prescription Monitoring Programs (PMPs). Many argue that the new legislation goes too far and interferes with the special relationship between a patient and a doctor. It is expected to raise the costs in the health care system as doctors, pharmacists and other health care professions struggle to comply with the maze of new and complex regulations. The stated purpose of the new bills on prescription drug laws would target prescription fraud, medicare fraud, doctor shopping and other potential abuses within the system.

Eric T. Schneiderman’s proposal to address the prescription drug crisis describes the “Drug Dealing Doctor” and the “Out-of-Control Doctor” who write prescriptions which law enforcement officer deem “not medically necessary.”

The Internet System for Tracking Over-Prescribing (I-STOP) Act, known as A.8320 (introduced by Assemblyman Michael Cusick) and S.5720 (introduced by Senator Andrew J. Lanza) would establish an internet reporting program that would require pharmacists to look for and report certain kinds of patient medical information related to the types of prescription drugs and the amounts being used by individuals throughout the State of New York. That information would often include the following:

  1. information to identify the pharmacy that fills the prescription;
  2. the patient’s information, including name, address, date of birth and gender;
  3. information about the patient’s prescription including the number of pills and refill information, the date the prescription was written and dispensed, and the type of drug prescribed by the doctor;
  4. information about the doctor prescribing the medication including the doctor’s DEA number and NPIU number (if available); and
  5. the Official NYS Prescription serial number which would be a unique number.

The pending joint legislation would also:

  1. mandate that pharmacists in New York report confidential patient medical information including the time the prescription drugs are being dispensed, the amount of medicine prescribed, and the type of medication prescribed;
  2. force pharmacists to research the data in New York’s Prescription Monitoring Program to conform the patient provided a valid prescription prior to receiving the medication;
  3. force doctors and other health care professions to research the patient’s prescription drug history on the PMP system prior to prescribing and controlled substances;
  4. require doctors and other health care professionals to report details about the prescription for the controlled substance on the internet tracking system at the time the prescription is given to the patient; and
  5. allow the Department of Health to maintain control of the prescription drug reporting system to track the dispensing of controlled substances with a doctor’s prescription.

The Pharmacists Society of the State of New York objected to the legislation, in part, because pharmacists would face fines for failing to adequately check the system including a fine of $500 for a first offense, $1,000 for a second offense and $5,000 for a third or subsequent violation. Under the proposed legislation, doctors and other health care professionals would also be subject to steep fines if they failed to adequately follow the new legislation.

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So do you think the potential costs of the new regulations will outweigh any benefit in decreasing abuse of prescription medication in New York?