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Delaware Health Law Blog

Governor Markell urges Delaware lawmakers to do more to address prescription drug abuse

The focus on prescribing narcotics and other controlled substances for the management of pain is nothing new, but Delaware has recently taken initiatives to bring that focus into perspective. In a post on October 14, I wrote about the recently proposed rule on the use of controlled substances in the treatment of pain. That rule establishes the Board of Medical Licensure and Discipline’s (“Board”) formal recognition of use of controlled substances in the treatment of pain. After a recent series of articles in the News Journal about the abuse of prescription pain killers in Delaware, pain management physicians should be alerted to all of the changes coming to state and participate in the processes to fight this epidemic.

In a November 10th article, the News Journal reported that. Governor Markell indicated that he would either propose specific legislation or ask the Board to pass a regulation. Once Delaware establishes its electronic prescription systems next year, Governor Markell pledges to work with the governors of the surrounding states to share data in Delaware’s new prescription monitoring program. Delaware is currently one of fifteen states without such a system already in place. The Governor also indicated that a public awareness campaign may strengthen the requirements of this new program.

Investigations into the practice of prescribing controlled substances are on the rise, and since January of 2010, the Board has suspended or reprimanded nine doctors for violations. In what has become a prescription drug abuse epidemic, such prescription habits will also draw attention from state and federal authorities fighting against health care fraud.

Developing new prescription monitoring systems will provide doctors who prescribe controlled substances with a valuable tool for identifying drug-seeking patients, which in the end should serve to reduce some of the abuse that has plagued Delaware and other states.

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