It would be easier for states to share information from their prescription-drug monitoring programs under federal legislation introduced Thursday, according to Republican U.S. Rep. Harold "Hal" Rogers.
The proposal would create a standardized system to share data from state monitoring programs, enhancing a tool to combat interstate pill trafficking, Rogers said.
Systems that track prescriptions allow doctors to figure out whether someone is getting orders for painkillers and other drugs from multiple prescribers, and police can use the information in investigations.
However, there is no platform to share information among the 48 states that have authorized such systems, which makes it harder to figure out whether someone is crossing state lines to get prescriptions and pills.
Some states collect different types of information, and some allow police to have direct access while others do not.
The Interstate Drug Monitoring Efficiency and Data Sharing (ID MEDS) Act would provide for an open-standard formatting method to share data between states; provide secure, standardized encryption of protected health and personal information; and protect states' technology investments, Rogers said in a news release.
The bill also requires an analysis of whether it's feasible to make state monitoring systems interoperable with other databases, such as electronic health records, Rogers said.
It is time to link state systems to "eliminate the interstate doctor shopping which has been fueling the pill pipeline around our country," Rogers said in a statement.
"The ID MEDS Act paves the way for secure prescription data exchange so that doctors and pharmacists around the country will be able to make informed decisions about prescribing these powerful drugs, and law enforcement can more easily root out corrupt drug dealers," Rogers said.
It became commonplace in Kentucky the last several years for people to travel to other states, including Florida and Georgia, to get prescriptions for drugs. One key reason was to avoid Kentucky's prescription-monitoring system, authorities have said.
Rogers introduced the legislation with Rep. Frank Wolf, R-Virginia; Republican Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio; and Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-Rhode Island.
Authorities have identified abuse of prescription drugs as one of the fastest-growing drug problems in the country, leading to more overdose deaths and other problems.
"While my region of southern and Eastern Kentucky became ground zero for the abuse of prescription drugs a decade ago, it is now wreaking havoc on communities small and large and cutting across socioeconomic and gender lines," Rogers said.