The New York State Senate today passed legislation (S3402), sponsored by Senator Kemp Hannon (R, Nassau), that would help stop the illegal prescription drug crisis. The measure would create new penalties for the theft and unauthorized possession of blank New York State prescription forms.
Senator Hannon, Chair of the Health Committee, said: “While New York State has an outstanding program to combat prescription theft and forgery, current law forces authorities to wait until someone sells a blank official prescription form before law enforcement can act. Although the state is moving toward electronic prescriptions, paper prescription pads will continue to be used by prescribers in certain circumstances. This legislation continues to be necessary as another valuable tool law enforcement officers can utilize in fighting the drug epidemic our communities continue to struggle with.”
New York State has taken extensive steps to curb the abuse of prescription drugs. However, current laws are insufficient to prevent the theft, possession, and sale of blank official prescription forms because authorities are precluded from acting until a stolen form is sold. The Bureau of Narcotic Enforcement estimates that over one million official scripts have been stolen from New York City hospitals alone.
This bill creates a criminal penalty for three specific situations: grand larceny – a class E felony – for stealing a blank prescription form; criminal possession of stolen property – a class E felony – for possessing a blank prescription form, knowing it is stolen and intending to benefit from it; criminal possession of a prescription form – a class A misdemeanor – for knowingly and unlawfully possessing a blank official New York State prescription form.
The Senate today also passed two bills, sponsored by Senator Hannon, that are related to the State’s implementation of the mandatory electronic prescribing law which takes effect March 27, 2016:
- · (S6779) would exempt health care practitioners who order only a few prescriptions a year from mandatory electronic prescribing. E-prescribing requires the investment in electronic health systems that could be cost prohibitive for prescribers issuing only a few prescriptions a year. Under this bill prescribers can certify to the Department of Health to be exempt if they issue less than 25 prescriptions annually; and
· (S6778) would provide an exemption to the e-prescribing requirement for oral prescriptions already authorized by the Education Law. This exemption would accommodate nursing homes who need to obtain prescriptions for their residents at all hours of the day, including times when a physician may not be present to issue one. Under this practice, nursing homes can obtain the prescription orally and have the physician reconcile the prescription later.
These measures together are common sense approaches to ensure the electronic prescribing requirement is workable and achieves its intended goal of prohibiting doctor shopping and prescription drug abuse.
The bills will be sent to the Assembly.