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NY’s “I-Stop” Law In Effect, "Toughest In Nation"

Oxycodone pills
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Residents of New York who require prescription medication will no longer need to carry a paper scrip to the pharmacy.  New York’s groundbreaking electronic prescription law known as “I-Stop” is now in effect.

The "I-Stop" law is being hailed as the toughest in the nation, according to state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman.    "New York’s groundbreaking I-STOP law has transformed the way our state is fighting the scourge of opiate addiction. Paper prescriptions had become a form of criminal currency that could be traded even more easily than the drugs themselves."

New York’s Internet System for Tracking Over-Prescribing Act (I-STOP), passed in 2012, became effective Sunday. Instead of hand-writing paper prescription slips, which can be forged, doctors, dentists and other authorized health care workers must electronically send their prescriptions directly to pharmacies, barring exceptions for emergencies.   "By moving to a system of e-prescribing we can curb the incidence of these criminal acts and also reduce errors resulting from misinterpretation of handwriting on good faith prescriptions," said Schneiderman.

Many doctors have already been using electronic prescriptions. The law is expected to undercut the nation's growing epidemic of heroin and opiate abuse by eliminating "doctor-shopping," when abusers seek treatment from multiple doctors, then fill their scrips at various pharmacies. Health care workers check a database before prescribing medications known to be addictive to see if a patient may have already been prescribed any controlled substances. By early detection of potential abusers, officials reason patients can be steered away from substance abuse.

In April 2014, on the occasion of the eighth annual "National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day," Albany Police Chief Steven Krokoff told a gathering at the Albany Community Development Agency in Arbor Hill that for many people, their first foray into opiates is often via a home medicine cabinet.   "A lot of the heroin use we're seeing today, which made a lot of news, if you're tracing back the roots you see it quite often back to some type of prescription opioid."

Schneiderman says he is pleased... "...that the e-prescribing portion of the I-STOP law is now going  to be fully implemented to provide both doctors and law enforcement with the tools they need to meet patient needs without fueling the vicious cycle of addiction."

Meantime, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand is pushing legislation that could help rein in heroin use at an earlier stage. Her measure would require the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to issue guidelines for the safe prescribing of opioids for the treatment of acute pain.

And U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer has thrown his support behind the Transnational Drug Trafficking Act, which would help halt the dramatic increase in opiate and heroin overdoses in border-facing communities by making it easier for federal law enforcement officials to investigate and prosecute drug traffickers who shuttle drugs over the border into places like Buffalo.

Dave Lucas is WAMC’s Capital Region Bureau Chief. Born and raised in Albany, he’s been involved in nearly every aspect of local radio since 1981. Before joining WAMC, Dave was a reporter and anchor at WGY in Schenectady. Prior to that he hosted talk shows on WYJB and WROW, including the 1999 series of overnight radio broadcasts tracking the JonBenet Ramsey murder case with a cast of callers and characters from all over the world via the internet. In 2012, Dave received a Communicator Award of Distinction for his WAMC news story "Fail: The NYS Flood Panel," which explores whether the damage from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee could have been prevented or at least curbed. Dave began his radio career as a “morning personality” at WABY in Albany.
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