Pubdate: Sat, 14 Jan 2006
Source: Bennington Banner (VT)
Copyright: 2006 by MediaNews Group, Inc. and NENI Newspapers
Author: Associated Press
Bookmark: (Oxycontin/Oxycodone)


MONTPELIER -- The Senate on Friday gave final approval to a bill that 
would create a drug database to help prevent the illegal use of 
prescription drugs.

The electronic database would hold information about prescriptions 
written or filled. The database is designed to crack down on the 
illegal use or sale of dangerous drugs, such as painkillers OxyContin 
and Percocet, which has become a problem in Vermont, officials said.

"A surprising number of heroin addicts first became addicted to 
prescription drugs," said Sen. James Leddy, D-Chittenden, a member of 
the Judiciary Committee that drafted the bill. The state is seeing "a 
tremendous impact from the abuse of legally prescribed medicines."

The bill now goes to the House where it is expected to be reviewed by 
the Judiciary and Health Care committees.

A $350,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Justice will pay for the database.

The way the system would work is that doctors and pharmacists would 
enter information as they write or fill prescriptions. Through the 
database, they would be able to look over patients' records to 
prevent numerous prescriptions for one sickness or conflicting prescriptions.

The database would help stop "doctor shopping" where people who want 
drugs get more than one prescription for the same affliction or seek 
out doctors who may be more inclined to write prescriptions, Leddy said.

The Senate on Thursday addressed privacy concerns about the database 
that have been raised. A compromise approved by the Senate would 
prevent law enforcement from getting access to the database directly.

Only the panels that review conduct of physicians and pharmacists 
could get into the database. The state's health commissioner could 
then forward a case that needs to be investigated to police.

"The only time the commissioner can do that is when there is a 
substantial health and safety threat," said Allen Gilbert, executive 
director of the Vermont American Civil Liberties Union. "It is a 
fundamentally different bill than when they started."
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MAP posted-by: Beth Wehrman