Tuesday, January 10, 2012

New Rx meds program will save lives in our state

The number of people dying due to prescription drug overdoses in our state has grown dramatically: from 2003 to 2008 the state death rate increased 90 percent.  In fact, currently, more people die from unintentional drug overdoses than in car accidents.

To crack down on this statewide overdose problem, in 2007 the legislature passed a bill that created the Washington State Prescription Monitoring Program (WA PMP), which was rolled out on October 7, 2011.

The state has since been collecting, and storing in a database, information regarding purchases of pain meds and other controlled substances (Schedule II, III, IV and V). So far the most dispensed drug—at 44 million pills to fill more than 800,000 prescriptions—was Hydrocodone / Acetaminophen (Vicodin).  That’s a lot of pills and it makes sense to know where they’re going and how they’re used so that they are not misused or abused.

The WA PMP promotes public health and safety and helps improve patient care because physicians and pharmacists will be able to use the database to identify dangerous drug interactions, recognize undermanaged pain or see the need for substance-abuse treatment.

With the WA PMP, Washington joins another 47 states that have laws authorizing monitoring programs.

To learn more visit the program’s website here.

To read this story in Spanish, click here.