Nevada's prescription monitoring system described

Published: May. 3, 2016 at 6:29 PM PDT
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The U.S Attorney prosecuting the case against Richie West and Dr. Robert Rand and seven other defendants accused of operating an illegal Oxycodone distribution and street-buying operation says he has records from the Nevada Pharmacy Board. Those records identify when and where the defendants had their prescriptions filled. The system is part of the board's Prescription Monitoring Program.

The Prescription Monitoring Program was one of the first implemented in the country. Since then, most states have copied what’s been done in Nevada since 1997.

It’s not a perfect system, and there are some loopholes. But it’s helped keep track and monitor those who doctor-shop looking to feed their opioid habits.

Opioid addicts consider pills just a part of their daily lives. So much so, they will visit doctor after doctor, not telling one about the other in hopes of scoring a prescription. The state's Prescription Monitoring Program or PMP is designed to crack down on such activity.

“So we know who wrote the prescription, what it is, the quantity. Who the patient is that got it, and all of that including who filled it. First thing we do is send an unsolicited report to every one of those physicians, all 10 of those guys, and ladies, and every one of those pharmacies. So now all of a sudden all of those people know the patient that is sitting in that office right now has been to nine other physicians in that same week and then, game over. We don't tell them what to do. We just tell them, doc, you need to know this,” says Executive Director for the Nevada Board of Pharmacy Larry Pinson Pharm. D.

Pinson says the information in the database is sensitive. A court order is needed if law enforcement wants access to it.

In the last legislative session SB 459 became law. It does, among other things, force a physician to go to the PMP and look up any patient for whom they are about to write a controlled substance prescription. This allows the doctor to know in real time if the patient is indeed doctor-shopping.

Pinson says the system is designed to get the patient help rather than punish him. And he admits the system is geared toward the patient.

He says he knows of no mechanism here or any place that monitors physicians’ prescription-writing practices.

Disciplining doctors is up to Nevada’ State Board of Medical Examiners. While the board may not have automatic access to information that a doctor is routinely over-prescribing opioids, such activity is likely to catch up to the physician.

Law enforcement investigations, or civil actions involving drug crimes or negligence which name a physician, will get the attention of the board. If the allegations prove true, that physician’s license will be revoked.

If you or someone you know is experiencing withdraw from opioids, the pharmacy board has set up a hotline to help you. No questions asked

call 775-825-HELP

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