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Prescription Drug Monitoring Bill in NE
Last Wednesday, Senator Sara Howard presented a bill that is one near and dear to her heart; prescription drug monitoring.
Six years ago Senator Howard lost her older sister to a prescription overdose. Following a terrible car accident, Carrie Howard became addicted to prescription drugs and was in and out of the hospital, and substance abuse centers.
After Carrie’s death, her family discovered several prescription pill bottles; all from different doctors, and different pharmacies. Carrie had been “doctor shopping.” She knew exactly who to go to, and where to get these drugs filled without ever raising questions among her doctors or pharmacists.
Nebraska is one of two states in the entire country that does not regulate pharmaceuticals. During testimony, local doctors, parents, and pharmacists all showed their support of the bill. Joni Cover, with the Nebraska Pharmacy Association, even explained how Nebraska is currently being used as a nationwide “filling” state for drug dealers. They fly into Nebraska, shop for doctors, get numerous prescriptions filled, and fly home with their stash to sell.
“This is something that destroys lives and destroys families,” said Dr. Jason Kruger. “When this addiction goes unrecognized, the end process is death.”
Currently, prescription drug abuse is used more than any drug except marijuana and alcohol, and the sale of opioids has increased four-fold since 1999 (SAMHSA.gov). It affects people of all ages, races, and socioeconomic status. Military veterans have been hit hard by prescription drug addiction due to the physical and psychological distress caused in combat. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration, mental and substance use disorders caused more hospitalizations in 2009 than any other cause.
This bill would provide a mandatory database where pharmacies and doctors could share information about who fills prescriptions for narcotics, and no patient can opt out. Every pharmacy would be connected, putting an end to “doctor shopping.”
About Jill Sauser, The Kim Foundation Project Coordinator
Jill graduated with a degree in Journalism and a minor in Speech Communication from the University of Nebraska at Omaha in 2009. During her time at UNO, she completed a two year PR practicum program where she worked with numerous nonprofit clients including the MS Society, The Archdiocese of Omaha, The Omaha Food Bank and YWCA. Jill joined The Kim Foundation as Project Coordinator in April 2014.