Interstate prescription monitoring sought

Associated Press / May 3, 2010

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LOS ANGELES — More doctors in California are using a prescription monitoring program to curb drug abuse, yet the state is unable to share information with other states.

Although a state online drug database went into effect last year to thwart addicts who bounce from doctor to doctor to feed a habit or make a small fortune peddling meds, there is now a push to extend it beyond state lines to snare so-called doctor shoppers and curb drug abuse.

Since September, more than 2,300 doctors and other practitioners in California have used a secure website to get access to 134,000 patient reports. Forty states have passed legislation to allow prescription drug monitoring programs, but only 34 are operating.

“The whole purpose of this is to have states communicating with one another,’’ said Dr. Laxmaiah Manchikanti, chief executive officer of the American Society of Interventional Pain Physicians. “If you know a patient is abusing, a doctor isn’t going to give that patient a prescription anymore.’’

Doctors can be hamstrung in making critical decisions about prescribing painkillers if they aren’t able to find out if patients filled prescriptions elsewhere.

A nationwide network might have helped Michael Jackson’s doctor better monitor the medication he was receiving from multiple doctors.

Dr. Conrad Murray, who was recently charged with involuntary manslaughter in the singer’s death, told police Jackson gave few details when Murray repeatedly asked about his medications, according to an affidavit. The Los Angeles County coroner said Jackson was killed by a mix of a powerful anesthetic and a sedative. Police have searched for information in three states to see if Jackson’s medical history played a role in his June death.