Prescriptions for controlled substances would be tracked as part of a real-time database under a deal struck Tuesday by lawmakers and Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
Under the legislation, doctors would be required to file prescriptions into an online database, which pharmacists would then have access to before filling requests for addictive drugs, such as painkillers.
The database would be created as part of a package of proposals that would eliminate paper prescriptions for most controlled substances and create a statewide program for disposing of legal drugs.
“This landmark agreement will help put a stop to the growing number of fatalities resulting from overdoses on prescription drugs,” Cuomo said in a statement.
The new database — called I-STOP — was pushed by state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman as a way to combat so-called doctor shopping, in which drug abusers get multiple prescriptions for the same drug by visiting several different doctors.
Currently, the state’s prescription registry is voluntary for doctors and has a lag of up to 45 days, while pharmacists don’t have access to it.
“It’s a very transformational piece of legislation that completely changes the way we track and deal with prescription medication in New York state,” Schneiderman said in an interview. “We now have gone from the back of the pack to setting a national model.”
Schneiderman originally proposed the I-STOP database last year in the wake of high-profile deaths of prescription-drug abusers in Buffalo and on Long Island.
The package of bills — which has support from Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos, R-Nassau County, and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, D-Manhattan — was not available for review as of Tuesday evening. It wasn’t immediate clear when the Legislature would take it up for a vote.
Under the proposal, doctors would be required to issue “e-prescriptions” for nearly all controlled substances, such as hydrocodone. The prescription documented would be electronically rather than written on paper, eliminating the possibility of altered or stolen prescription pads. The Department of Health would be charged with creating regulations and working out logistics for how the electronic scripts would work, including how they would be transmitted to pharmacists, according to Cuomo’s office.