Higgins, Kennedy Take Action to Stop Prescription Drug Abuse in Western New York

Congressman Brian Higgins (NY-27) and N.Y. State Senator Timothy M. Kennedy (58th District) announced actions they are taking to address the growing epidemic of prescription drug abuse.

At a press conference on October 24th Higgins pinpointed to the need for additional advancements in health information technology as critical step in this fight. Kennedy outlined a series of prescription drug reforms he introduced called the “Michael David Israel Laws” – named for a young Western New Yorker who lost his life after his battle with prescription drug addiction.

Senator Kennedy has introduced the Michael David Israel Laws as four separate bills which together represent a comprehensive approach to addressing the prescription drug abuse epidemic. The new bills target training for health practitioners, patient access to information, addiction transition and reform to the controlled substance abuse registry.

  • Doctor’s Training Law – Doctors, nurse practitioners and pharmacists would be required to complete three hours of continuing education each year on the impacts and warning signs of addiction, as well as methods to migrate patients from addictive drugs to lower-risk solutions.
  • Patient Information Act – Before prescribing any opiate analgesics or psychotropic drugs, doctors and pharmacists would be required to make patients aware of the dangers and risks of addiction and to provide them with information about coping with addiction and local resources available for help.
  • Addiction Transition Law – The Department of Health (DOH) would be required to promulgate recommendations for prescribers to transition patients from highly addictive pharmaceuticals to lower-risk pain management solutions.
  • Controlled Substance Registry Reform Act – DOH will be required to develop a “real-time” reporting system for the controlled substance registry. Both doctors and pharmacists will be granted access to the controlled substance registry, and they will be required to check the registry for indicators of abuse or addiction prior to writing or filling a prescription. DOH will also develop a system of penalties for failing to check the registry.

Congressman Higgins has been an avid supporter of electronic medical record implementation as a means for health professionals to better exchange patient information, avoid medical errors and generally encourage better outcomes.  In a 2009 survey of 11 countries only 46% of U.S. doctors use electronic medical records compared to over 90% in Australia, Italy, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden & the UK.  Higgins says this nation should take swift action toward comprehensive health IT implementation.


Source: Congressman Brian Higgins – October 24, 2011