Prescription Drug Abuse: The New Front in the War on Drugs
States are in the midst of fighting a new war on drugs—prescription drug abuse.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, prescription drug abuse is a national epidemic more deadly than crack cocaine or heroin use. By May, 40 states had developed programs to keep close watch on prescription drugs—33 of those programs are operational.
But there is little uniformity, information-sharing and cooperation among the states. A new compact developed by The Council of State Governments, through the National Center for Interstate Compacts, aims to address that issue.
An advisory committee, chaired by Kansas Sen. Vicki Schmidt, endorsed the formation of an interstate compact during its first meeting, and established the ambitious goal of drafting legislation for introduction in the states in 2011.
While CSG, the advisory group and the legislation drafting team are committed to resolving issues around information-sharing, the stakeholders want states to maintain autonomy to develop and operate their prescription drug monitoring programs.
The compact will:
Provide a secure and authorized way to exchange prescription drug monitoring program data among member states, while also protecting the rights and privacy of patients;
Create an administrative and governance structure—a commission comprised of officials from each member state—to oversee the interstate sharing of that data;
Establish consistent policies among member states to minimize the cost of nationwide data sharing;
Establish security requirements developed by member states for the shared use and exchange of data; and
Allow the commission to engage in rule-making.
The compact will not:
Mandate how member states operate their respective prescription drug monitoring programs;
Dictate which state agency in each member state will be responsible for the day-to-day operation of those programs;
Override a member state’s existing constitutional provisions; nor
Require member states to establish advisory committees or groups to work with the interstate commission.