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Next Step In Fight Against Opioids: Improving State's Drug Database

Visivasnc via iStock

An effort to tighten how health care providers prescribe and dispense opioids passed out of the legislature and is awaiting the signature of the Governor. It's the next step in the fight against over-prescribing drugs.  

The legislation deals with prescription drug software called the Controlled Substance Database. It’s a program that doctors and pharmacists use to track prescription drugs. They use it to see if a patient is being prescribed dangerous combinations or if they’re trying to get multiple prescriptions from different doctors. The database can also be used to review what health workers are giving out.

Mark Steinagel directs the division in charge of the database. According to Steinagel, the proposed legislation makes it a priority for his department to find discrepancies.  

"With our limited resources, in the past, we’ve focused on the big time problems. And now, we’re going to also be focusing on the good practitioners who just maybe aren’t as careful as their peers," he said. 

The bill also gives Steinagel’s division authority to hold prescribers accountable. If they’re not following standards set out by the Utah Department of Health or the CDC, his department will come to them to provide education on how to meet those standards.

There are exemptions about when medical staff needs to check the database, but they’ve been narrowed to situations like computer problems or emergencies.

Gov. Herbert has just over two weeks to sign the bill into law. 

Erik Neumann is a radio producer and writer. A native of the Pacific Northwest, his work has appeared on public radio stations and in magazines along the West Coast. He received his Bachelor's Degree in geography from the University of Washington and a Master's in Journalism from UC Berkeley. Besides working at KUER, he enjoys being outside in just about every way possible.
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