Pa. still lacks prescription drug-monitoring program despite bill passing over year ago

PA still lacks prescription drug-monitoring program despite bill passing over year ago

PITTSBURGH — More than a year since Pennsylvania’s House and Senate both nearly unanimously passed a prescription drug-monitoring program, the state has yet to put one in place.

Addiction psychiatrist Dr. Shannon Allen told Channel 11 News that the lack of a prescription drug-monitoring program is becoming a deadly problem.

The program, which was passed in October 2014, will monitor prescriptions written by doctors and requires prescribers to submit the information to the state within 72 hours. Its goal is to stop the writing of bad prescriptions and prevent patients from going doctor to doctor.

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"It probably sounds like it would be easy to do, but it's far more sophisticated than what most folks realize it might be,” Sen. Jay Costa, D-Pittsburgh, said.

Costam, who supported the 2014 bill, said the six-month-long budget impasse is partially to blame, but added it’s also a program that needs time to develop.

"I think it's in our best interest to methodically and slowly go through the process, where we gather the best practices and implement them in what we do,” he said.

Allen said the delay will likely cost more lives.

"It's going to keep happening until we have the resources that other states have available,” Allen said.

A spokesman with the Pennsylvania Department of Health told Channel 11 News that the program is expected to be up and running by August.