|Vol. 9 No. 19, September 12, 2012
Fact and Stats
Real-time prescription drug databases can help decrease the number of inappropriate prescriptions that are filled for commonly misused drugs, according to a new study published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal.
The researchers in British Columbia tracked the number of inappropriate prescriptions for opioid painkillers and tranquilizers after the province introduced a real-time database, called PharmaNet, in 1995. The database allows pharmacists to view patient's recent prescriptions, said Colin Dormuth, an epidemiologist at the University of British Columbia and lead author of the study. Pharmacists who suspect "doctor shopping", when a patient tries to fill prescriptions for the same medication at multiple pharmacies, can "sound the alarm" or refuse to dispense the drugs.
After the database was introduced, the study found that for people receiving federal assistance, inappropriate prescriptions for:
Opioids such as OxyContin and Vicodin are powerful painkillers and are commonly used in cancer patients or for a few days after surgeries. But they are also highly addictive and can trigger serious side effects, such as heart problems and breathing failure.
Opioids fell from 3.2% to 2.1%; and
Benzodiazepines, a class of tranquilizers, fell from 1.2% to 0.71%.
Although prescription drug monitoring databases already exist in the U.S., few are real-time and there is limited evidence of their success in preventing inappropriate prescriptions.
"The cost of implementing these networks in terms of the hardware and resources to build them is probably trivial compared to the millions of inappropriate prescriptions that can be prevented" Colin Dormuth told Reuters Health.
Source: Effect of a Centralized Prescription Network on Inappropriate Prescriptions for Opioid Analgesics and Benzodiazepines
Date: September 4, 2012
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