House urges format for drug info

House lawmakers passed a bill that requires the Department of Health and Human Services to administer a uniform electronic format for reporting drug data and funds the development of state databases for controlled substances.

Each prescription report in the databases would include the names of the doctor and patient, address of the patient, quantity dispensed, date of dispensing, number of refills and whether the drug was a refill or first-time request.

If the bill becomes law, state officials would have to notify law enforcement about information pertaining to "a potential unlawful diversion or misuse of a controlled substance." The measure would give doctors more ability to detect abuse and prevent people from shopping for doctors willing to fill out prescriptions of controlled substances.

The bill would authorize $25 million in annual funding for the program in fiscal 2006 and 2007, and then $15 million for each of the next three fiscal years.

Kentucky and 20 other states already have prescription drug monitoring programs. However, information is not shared among those states; therefore, doctors cannot view a patient's prescriptions administered in another state.

"Without a system like the one the House passed today, people addicted to prescription drugs could still cross state lines to visit multiple doctors and thus thwart the system," said Rep. Edward Whitfield (R-Ky.), who sponsored the bill.

The measure has gone to the Senate.

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