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Post date: July 11 2012

A.G. Schneiderman In Buffalo To Detail Landmark I-Stop Legislation To Curb Rx Drug Abuse

First-In-The-Nation Law Will Require Doctors To Check Patient Prescription History And Pharmacists To Update Database In Real Time

New York Will Be One Of The First To Implement E-Prescribing Of Controlled Substances, Ending Abuse Of Forged Or Stolen Scripts

Schneiderman: I-STOP Is A National Model For Fighting Prescription Drug Abuse

BUFFALO— Following the unanimous passage of the I-STOP plan, Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman today was joined by a coalition of local families, doctors, pharmacists and elected officials to detail the impact of the new legislation in Western New York. The Internet System for Tracking Over-Prescribing Act is set to become a national model for other states and Congress to follow to curb prescription drug abuse, the nation’s fastest growing drug problem. Introduced in June of 2011 by Attorney General Schneiderman, I-STOP is an online database that enables doctors and pharmacists to report and track controlled narcotics in real time. The bipartisan legislation is the first joint Attorney General-Governor program bill in recent memory.

“This is a major victory for the people of Buffalo and families across the state. With I-STOP, we are creating a national model for smart, coordinated communication between health care providers and pharmacists to better serve patients, stop prescription drug trafficking, and provide treatment to those who need help,” said Attorney General Schneiderman. “I applaud the families, advocates and lawmakers for taking action to curb the prescription drug crisis that has impacted communities in every corner of this state, and Governor Cuomo for his leadership and commitment to signing I-STOP into law. New York is now leading the nation in protecting the public from the devastating consequences of prescription drug abuse.”

Among the features of groundbreaking legislation:

  • I-STOP will make New York the first state in the nation to mandate that physicians consult a database of a patient's prescription history before prescribing a schedule II, III, or IV controlled substance. Accurate patient histories and better training will help physicians detect doctor shoppers and better serve patients at risk of addiction. Doctors can also use this information to avoid potentially dangerous drug interactions.
  • I-STOP will make New York the largest, and only second state in the nation, to require real-time reporting by pharmacists when schedule II, III, IV or V prescriptions are filled.
  • I-STOP will make New York one of the first states to schedule the universal mandate of e-prescribing for controlled substances in December of 2014. The regulations will be promulgated by December 2012. This will nearly eliminate the problem of forged or stolen prescriptions—used both by addicts, and criminal organizations obtaining pills to resell on the street.
  • I-STOP will reschedule hydrocodone to Schedule II, ending automatic refills for this highly abused drug.
  • I-STOP will schedule tramadol, a 'drug of concern' to Schedule IV (it is currently unscheduled).
  • I-STOP will establish a safe disposal program providing a place for New Yorkers to get rid of expired and unneeded drugs to ensure that they are not left in medicine cabinets for children or addicts to access.

I-STOP will also deter fraud against private health insurers and the state government. Taxpayers have been paying for a substantial portion of the over-prescribed pills through the Medicaid program. Each ring of collusive patients and prescribers prosecuted by the Attorney General’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit represented a loss to the State of at least $1 million.

Attorney General Schneiderman first introduced the I-STOP bill in June 2011.

In January of this year, the Attorney General released a report detailing the scope of the prescription drug epidemic in New York State and demonstrating the need for action by the Legislature. According to the Attorney General’s report:

  • Statewide prescriptions for hydrocodone have increased 16.7 percent, while those for oxycodone have increased an astonishing 82 percent between 2007 and 2009;
  • In Buffalo, New York’s largest methadone clinic outside of New York City, Catholic Health System, has begun to reorganize its service to accommodate an increase in care needed to treat the number of opiate-addicted expectant mothers and newborns;
  • In Western New York, nine “prescriptions drop-offs,” whereby households can dispose of unwanted and unnecessary drugs, were conducted over two years between October 2008 and November 2010. In total, these drop-offs yielded 652 pounds of controlled substances, comprised of 124,050 doses of narcotics, including 48,883 doses of hydrocodone, 16,393 doses of oxycodone, and 2,287 doses of fentanyl.

I-STOP will vastly enhance the effectiveness of the present prescription tracking system. Its goal is to enable doctors and pharmacists to provide prescription pain medications, and other controlled substances, to patients who truly need them. At the same time, it will arm them with the necessary data to detect potentially dangerous drug interactions, identify patterns of abuse by patients, doctors and pharmacists, help those who suffer from crippling addictions and prevent potential addiction before it starts. 

Leaders in law enforcement, the medical community, the Legislature, as well as parent advocates, praised Attorney General Schneiderman’s critical role in shepherding the bill to passage. I-STOP is supported by U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, as well as a bipartisan coalition of 24 U.S. Representatives from across New York State, 20 addiction treatment provider organizations, the District Attorneys Association of the State of New York, New York State Association of Chiefs of Police, New York State Association of PBA's, and the Police Benevolent Association of the New York State Troopers, Inc.

"This bill has been a year long fight for my wife and I, and for all the members of our coalition of parents who have been through the unthinkable - the loss of a child," said Avi Israel. "This legislation is a great example of people working together for a common cause to save lives. We are proud to be New Yorkers and we are thankful to Attorney General Schneiderman for his vision and for all the sponsors of this bill."

The Crotty Family thanked Albany's political leaders for unanimously passing I-STOP, saying “We want to thank Attorney General Schneiderman and Governor Cuomo for bringing ‘real-time’ prescription monitoring to New York State. We would like to thank, Dr. Richard Blondell, for providing us with the information on the KASPER System that started us on a quest to bring a working Prescription Drug Monitoring System to New York State along with Former Assemblyman Jack Quinn III who initiated the beginning on this legislation. Thank you to The Buffalo News reporters, Susan Schulman, Dan Herbeck, Lou Michel and Henry Davis whose research provided the statistics that was proof of how ‘epidemic’ the problem was in Western New York with the award winning series ‘Rx for Danger.’ The Crottys and so many other families have struggled to achieve this legislation. This mandate requiring doctors and pharmacists to check a patient’s drug history will contribute to avoidance of over-prescribing and doctor shopping which has become so prevalent and unacceptable. There has been a plethora of state Senators and Assemblyman who have assisted us on this quest. The passing of the I-STOP WILL save lives and change the way doctors prescribe these highly addictive drugs.”

“I applaud all efforts to reduce the abuse of prescription drugs,” said U.S. Attorney William J. Hochul, Jr. “Our Office will continue to work with our law enforcement partners at the local, state and federal levels to keep prescription drugs out of the wrong hands.”  

“I applaud Attorney General Schneiderman for giving law enforcement and the medical community another tool to combat the growing epidemic of prescription drug abuse,” said Mayor Byron W. Brown, noting that Buffalo, like many cities across New York State, has had its share of unnecessary deaths as a result of this growing problem. “I-STOP creates a real-time registry for doctors and pharmacists to track the filling of prescriptions, provides improved education and awareness of prescription drug abuse, and creates a safe disposal program for prescription drugs.”

“We've long needed reform to prevent the loss of life caused by prescription drug abuse. Each death has been a tragedy, and sadly, devastating tragedies like this have been happening every day across our state. The grieving mothers and fathers, who bravely shared the stories of their children lost to this epidemic, have driven this cause forward,” said State Senator Tim Kennedy. “We owe Attorney General Schneiderman a great deal of credit for taking action to address this growing crisis that is hitting our communities hard. I-STOP is the right solution to curb the skyrocketing number of overdoses, robberies, suicides and murders connected to prescription drugs in recent years, and I am proud to have been an early supporter of it.” 

“The issue of prescription drug addiction and abuse has grown rapidly over the last few years, especially here in Western New York,” said State Senator George D. Maziarz. “This legislation takes a multi-faceted approach to addressing this important issue, and most importantly can help save the lives of thousands of people right here in our community. While we pause to remember those who have battled their addictions and lost, we now know that we are taking a pro-active approach to fixing this problem. I applaud the Legislature, Governor and Attorney General for working together to pass this necessary bipartisan legislation.”

“The new I-STOP law will change the way prescription drugs are monitored and distributed by creating a modernized program for health care professionals to view patients’ controlled substance histories. This law will improve public safety, help save lives, and make New York a national leader in combating prescription drug abuse,” said State Senator Michael H. Ranzenhofer. “I want to thank the Attorney General for all of his efforts in working with the State Legislature to pass this important law.”

 “New York has taken a step to fight prescription drug abuse by passing legislation I sponsored that will create a real-time database for physicians and pharmacists to check before dispensing certain prescription drugs,” said Assemblyman Dennis H. Gabryszak. “This database will prevent patients from doctor shopping and curb black-market dealing of highly addictive pain killers to ensure these drugs are being used safely. It will also help identify abusers and is an important step toward lessening prescription drug abuse.”

“What the families advocating for I-STOP have accomplished is truly amazing. Through constant phone calls, and meetings, and trips to Albany, they have had one important goal in mind, reform a broken system and ensure that no other family has to go through what they have been through. While nothing can be done to bring back those who tragically have been lost, the families should know that their hard work and advocacy has crafted legislation that will save lives, reform a broken system, and help to stem the tide of prescription drug abuse in New York State,” said Assemblyman Sean M. Ryan.“I would like to thank Attorney General Schneiderman and my colleagues in the Western New York delegation for advocating so strongly for this important legislation." 

"This legislative session, we took a significant and necessary step in addressing the epidemic that is prescription drug abuse by enacting the ISTOP legislation.  This real-time database will be a revolutionary tool in combating 'doctor shopping' and severely limiting instances where such substances are prescribed at a rate that could lead to its abuse and misuse,” said Assemblyman Kevin Smardz. “As a representative and a father, I am proud to support this measure that will undoubtedly save lives and make our communities that much safer. Personally, I wish to thank Mark and Suzanne Crotty, who having tragically lost their son to this epidemic, have been relentless advocates for this cause; who, like others that have lost loved ones to its grip, are the true architects and certainly the inspiration behind this policy becoming a reality. My heart goes out to these families."