‘Doctor shopping’ bills sorely needed

Published 1:26 pm Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Here in Shelby County, we have watched as drugs become more and more prevalent in our county. We’ve done stories on the increase in the number of drug-related arrests and deaths, both from illegal drug abuse and prescription drug abuse.

That’s why we were so pleased to see several lawmakers with Shelby County connections leading the pack on bills designed to combat “doctor shopping,” in which patients visit several doctors in order to get prescriptions for the same or similar controlled substances.

Doctor shopping is a practice commonly used by drug abusers and those who sell prescription drugs on the street, and finding a way to combat this problem is — and should be — a huge priority for our lawmakers and law enforcement.

The bills also allow for the regulation of pain management services and help to better track prescriptions for opioids, painkillers and other commonly abused drugs.

If passed, the bills will allow doctors and their employees to access the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program database.

The Alabama Department of Public Health requires anyone prescribing controlled substances in Alabama to report the dispensing of those drugs to the database, and access to the system will allow doctors to track past prescriptions given to their current patients.

Any doctors found to purposely contribute to prescription drug abuse are subject to disciplinary actions, including possible suspended medical licenses.

We applaud our local lawmakers — Rep. Jim McClendon, R-Springville, Rep. April Weaver, R-Brierfield, and Sen. Cam Ward, R-Alabaster — for taking an important leadership position on these bills.

The more we can prevent doctors and patients from abusing the system to put illegal drugs on the street, the safer our streets will be.

Prescription drug abuse is a problem that affects all walks of life, all economic classes and all races. It is in our best interest to do as much as we can to stop its spread.

The We Say is the opinion of the Shelby County Reporter editorial board.