IN THE NEWS - Staten Island Advance: Officials tout prescription-tracking I-STOP as key to combating Rx abuse on Staten Island
STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. -- Just about every two weeks, according to state Sen. Andrew Lanza, someone dies on Staten Island of a prescription drug overdose.
Lanza met today with State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, Assemblyman Michael Cusick, and City Councilwoman Debi Rose to update Islanders on legislation they say will be a national model for fighting prescription drug abuse.
"Four out of the five communities [in New York state] with the highest rate of prescription drug addiction ... are on Staten Island," said Schneiderman, adding that from 2005 to 2009, the Island saw a 147 percent increase in addiction to prescription drugs.
The Internet System for Tracking Over-Prescribing, dubbed "I-STOP," was sponsored by Lanza in the Senate and Cusick in the Assembly. It passed with unanimous support from both houses last term and is expected to be signed into law by Gov. Andrew Cuomo in the coming weeks.
I-STOP will mandate that doctors consult a real-time database of their patients' current prescriptions before writing a new one. Information in the system will be maintained by pharmacists. The law calls for doctors to use electronic prescribing to combat forged prescriptions. It will also institute a safe disposal program for unused prescription drugs.
Lanza called I-STOP the most important piece of legislation passed in New York in decades.
"This I-STOP legislation will allow doctors and pharmacists to ... keep people safe. It gives them the information to make sure that these drugs don't get in the hands of the wrong people [and] to be able to identify those who have fallen prey to the addiction of prescription drug abuse."
Cusick termed the legislation groundbreaking, with national implications.
"This is not an issue that is just here on Staten Island ... this is an epidemic that is hitting every socioeconomic category," he said, noting the wide support I-STOP has among medical professionals throughout the state.
The City Council, which issued a resolution in support of I-STOP, was represented at the meeting by Ms. Rose, who called the legislation "life-saving."
"Kids may think that they are not doing anything too dangerous because these pills are in the medicine cabinets in their home," Ms. Rose said, reflecting on the challenge of combating controlled substances that are legally produced, but still abused.
Robert Annicharico, the owner of Delco Drugs Pharmacy in Eltingville, said he looks forward to utilizing new tools the legislation would give pharmacists.
"As a pharmacist, this is definitely going to make my workplace safer," he said.
The event was held at the Beacon Christian Community Health Center in Mariners Harbor. Dr. David Kim, Beacon's CEO, thanked the legislators for their efforts.
Schneiderman reported that the National Association of Attorneys General had expressed interest in I-STOP and that he would share progress made by the new program with his colleagues around the country.
"We expect that regulations will be drafted by the Department of Health by the end of this year [and] that the database should be up and running sometime in 2013," Schneiderman said. The mandate for electronic prescribing won't go into effect until 2014.
Published: Monday, July 16, 2012, 6:57 PM by Timothy Harrison