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Senate Considers Database Checks To Stop Opioid Abuse

In a bid to overhaul Medicaid in Alaska, the Senate Finance Committee has been analyzing facts about a wide-ranging bill. One of the provisions of the bill is to curb the abuse of opioid medications. One of the most notable aspects of the bill is that it requires doctors to check the Prescription Database Monitoring Program before they prescribe opiates. The main reason behind this is to ensure that patients do not move from one doctor to the other buying pills for the purpose of feeding their addiction.

Every pharmacist will be required to check the Prescription Database Monitoring Program in Alaska. Senator Peter Micciche says that the interest in the database is triggered by the fact that many constituents are burglarized and the culprits are suffering from addiction. He is the chair of the Finance Health and Social Services subcommittee. He was saying this during discussions about closing up the department’s budget.

Court Ordered Group Therapy Session

Senator Micciche attended a court-ordered group therapy session in order to acquaint himself and understand the issue better. He noticed that among the attendants, there were those who had successful paths through life. However, just like many other Alaskans, their lives were diverted to unsuccessful ways just because of opiate abuse. His recommendation to make doctors check the databases was supported by fellow republican senator Anna Mackinnon of Eagle River.

MacKinnon said that the abusers have access to opiates because someone is prescribing them. However, once they cannot get prescriptions anymore, they slowly turn to heroin and things start getting out of hand. This is a trend that affects many Alaskans regardless of their age, gender, or any other affiliation.

Concern From Doctor Groups

As the debate goes on in congress and even outside, doctors are already voicing their concerns about the legislation, as things stand now, the Alaska State Medical Association supports the use of a database. It, however, does not support the idea of referring to it for every controlled drug. They argue that there will be unnecessary burdens in addition to increased costs if the new laws are allowed to prevail. Juneau’s Dr. Carlton Heine says that he agrees with 90 percent of the proposals, though. Most of these concerns have been raised by emergency doctors.

According to Doctor Heine, the blame should not be placed squarely on the doctors. He points back to the 1990s when federal programs that remunerate doctors and organizations that accredit hospitals encouraged doctors to use more pain meds. According to him, it should not be made to look like doctors are trying to create addicts. It only is because some situations can pressure the behavior that one sees. According to him, the most viable option would be to find the providers that are overprescribing instead of requiring doctors to refer to the database all the time.

After these submissions, the Senate Committee found it necessary to amend some of the recommendations in the bill so as to address the concerns of the doctors. Most notably, doctors whose patients are in an emergency state will not have to check the database.

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