It is now looking less and less likely that Pennsylvania is going to be able to fund its prescription drug monitoring program. State Sen. Pat Vance said last week that apparently there is no money set aside in the state budget to finance the program. This means there is a $1 million black hole which could threaten it altogether.
In October, Gov. Corbett signed into law the final element of the Healthy Pennsylvania plan this involved plans to reform physician dispensing and to develop a prescription drug monitoring program by June. This program was designed track the dispensing of prescription medications; especially painkillers, across the state. It was also hoped that the program would improve physician coordination and reduce costs by $13million.
This is a problem because the state does have a problem with drug overdose mortality. Pennsylvania ranks 14th worst for this in the United States with 15.3 people per 100,000 overdoses dying as a result. Recently, Steps to Recovery have helped fund the use of Naloxone (also known as Narcan) in Bucks County to help counter heroin overdoses. The prescription monitoring program aims to look at the legal side of drug dispensing in the state to try and counter the rise of prescription drug abuse.
The program may be saved if an expired federal bill which funds such anti-drug abuse systems can be reauthorized. From the point of view of helping prescription drug addicts, finding some kind of funding is essential. Commonly abused prescription medications include Codeine, hydrocodone and oxycodone. One sign of an addiction could be addressed by this program and that is “seeing various doctors to get prescriptions.” It would be great if physicians could see if this was happening and make recommendations for the real problem, addiction.