This week, New Jersey became the first U.S. state to launch its own prescription monitoring app so that physicians and pharmacists can identify patients or users who might be “doctor shopping”. The term “doctor shopping” has become infamous over the past decade. It is the act of going to multiple doctors to get prescriptions of narcotics and filling them at multiple pharmacies to avoid detection. These “doctor shoppers” are not always addicts themselves but drug dealers who make a hefty profit from the resale of these medications on the black market. For example, one prescription of Roxicodone 30mg pills can bring in over $3000 dollars.
To avoid “doctor shopping”, the state of New Jersey joined the prescription drug monitoring program. This program takes a patients social security number and lists all the doctors and medications they are prescribed. This allows doctors to see if the patient is abusing their medications, seeing multiple doctors or even being prescribed medications that may negatively interact with each other. The program has cut down tremendously on dirty doctors who over-prescribe narcotics.
The states consumer affairs department can see how much a doctor is prescribing and compare it to the normal prescribing practices of their peers. Since this prescription drug monitoring system has been implemented, many doctors who over-prescribe have been caught and medical licenses have been suspended.
New Jersey's new prescription drug monitoring program app is the first of its kind in America and shows the depths that the state of New Jersey is willing to go to crack down on the opiate epidemic. The free app for smartphones and handheld devices collects detailed information on prescriptions filled in New Jersey for controlled dangerous substances. Controlled dangerous substances also known as CDS, are the category of drugs that includes potentially addictive opiate painkillers.
“We’re working hard to expand the use of the Prescription Monitoring Program and this new app is the latest in an ongoing series of upgrades to the NJPMP since we launched it in late 2011,” Acting New Jersey Attorney General John J. Hoffman said. “The more user-friendly we make the NJPMP, the more prescribers and pharmacists will use it. Their participation is of critical importance as we collectively work to address prescription drug abuse.”
As of April 9, 2015, 88.4% of the state’s 29,400 licensed doctors had registered to use the NJPMP database. About 169,000 user requests were submitted to the NJPMP during the preceding 30-day period.
“We’re fostering increased use of the NJPMP. The abuse of prescription drugs is a national issue that we in New Jersey are addressing on multiple fronts,” said Steve Lee, acting director of the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs. “The ongoing increase in NJPMP registration is welcomed but we strive for even greater participation among prescribers and pharmacists.”
I feel NJ is making the right decision to make monitoring easier for medical health care professionals and more states will hopefully follow.