Note: This page is part of the Governor's News Archive, which holds press releases from January 2009 through September 2011. Since October 2011, recent news can be found in the Newsroom and archived news is available at news.delaware.gov.
Gov. Markell Signs Bill to Limit “Doctor Shopping,” Joins National Drug Policy Director for National Roll Out of Rx Abuse Report
Newark, DE – Surrounded by medical professionals at Christiana Hospital and the nation’s leader on drug control policy, Governor Jack Markell today signed into law an effort designed to reduce prescription drug abuse by limiting “doctor shopping” by addicts.
“The statistics around the prevalence of illegal prescription drug abuse are troubling. The personal stories of family members who have lost loved ones to this addiction are heartbreaking,” Markell said. “Since this legislation was introduced, people have shared with me their personal experiences and their support for this effort to reduce illegal prescription drug use.”
The legislation the Governor signed authorizes the state’s Office of Controlled Substances to establish a database of prescription information from pharmacies in the state to be used for the prevention of prescription drug abuse. Doctors would be able to check the database before giving prescriptions for controlled substances, to both check drug interactions and screen for possible drug abuse. Pharmacies, excluding those in healthcare facilities, would be required to report specific information to the program.
“This rise in prescription drug abuse is no surprise to the doctors and law enforcement professionals who see its effects in our communities and are here for this signing,” said Markell. “We have been focused on making sure that health care professionals have the best tools available to detect and prevent this kind of abuse before it ruins lives.”
Delaware’s new law drew the attention of the federal government. The Director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, R. Gil Kerkikowske was there for the signing. Earlier today, Markell was invited to join the Office of National Drug Control Policy for their release of some startling statistics around the rapid increase in illegal prescription drug use.
“The Delaware Prescription Monitoring Act, signed into law by Governor Markell today, will help ensure powerful prescription medications are available to those with a legitimate medical need, while making it easier for medical professionals to keep track of the prescription drugs used by their patients, and easier to intervene early when there is possible abuse of prescription drugs. I applaud Delaware for joining the ranks of states working aggressively to address the serious challenge of prescription drug abuse,” said Director Kerkikowske.
According to the ONDCP, the new report “reveals a 400 percent increase between 1998 and 2008 of substance abuse treatment admissions for those aged 12 and over reporting abuse of prescription pain relievers. The increase in the percentage of admissions abusing pain relievers spans every age, gender, race, ethnicity, education, employment level, and region. The study also shows a more than tripling of pain reliever abuse among patients who needed treatment for opioid dependence.”
Previously, the ONDCP reported that (the following bullets come from their blog http://www.ofsubstance.gov.
The bill, which mirrors efforts in effect in some other states, received broad bipartisan support in the legislature, where it was championed by Senators Brian Bushweller and Bethany Hall-Long, and Representatives Larry Mitchell and Melanie George. Attorney General Beau Biden was at the signing and supported the measure.
United States Senator Tom Carper has been an advocate on the federal level to curb abuse.
"Illegal prescription drug abuse destroys families and is a public safety issue," Attorney General Biden stated. "Abusers exploit the system to support their destructive drug use or drug trafficking activity. Delaware's Prescription Drug Monitoring Program brings together information from doctors who prescribe drugs and pharmacists who dispense drugs to identify and help stop this activity, and it gives law enforcement a powerful new tool to combat this growing threat."