Substance abuse group endorses Schneiderman's plan

Schneiderman

NEW YORK (Legal Newsline) - New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced the endorsement on Monday of his Internet System for Tracking Overprescribing plan by a professional association representing 20 providers that treat substance abuse.

The support by New York members of Treatment Communities of America follows Schneiderman's release of a report that details an increasing prescription drug abuse crisis throughout the state. The TCA includes the major substance abuse treatment organization, Phoenix House.

"Arguments that suggest only slight improvements in our current approaches and systems are well-intended, but insufficient," the TCA said.

"The current system is not working, which is why we see more and more people turning to our treatment programs for help. It's time to move forward with solutions that recognize that we are now in the midst of a public health crisis. We hope that lawmakers will act on I-STOP this year and that they continue to pursue policies that take significant steps to reverse this terrible trend...The attorney general's bill calling for the creation of a real-time prescription tracking database helps to build the foundation for this comprehensive approach."

In New York, the number of prescriptions for narcotic painkillers increased from 16.1 million in 2007 to nearly 22.5 million in 2010. The goal of I-STOP is to allow pharmacists and doctors to prescribe prescription pain medications and other controlled substances to patients who really need them.

"New York's TCA members are on the front lines - providing integrated and holistic care for people struggling with substance abuse," Schneiderman said.

"They understand the prescription drug crisis firsthand. By lending their support to a growing number of law enforcement officials, elected leaders and health care advocates, they bolster the growing coalition working to create the I-STOP database to track prescription narcotics before it's too late. The time is now to streamline communication between health care providers and pharmacists to better serve patients, stop prescription drug trafficking, and provide treatment to those who need help."

I-STOP would also give pharmacists and doctors the data they need in real time to detect possibly dangerous drug interactions, identify patterns of abuse by doctors, pharmacists and patients, and help those who suffer from addictions or who have the potential to become addicts. There are currently prescription drug monitoring programs in 43 states.

The TCA members endorsing I-STOP include Acacia Network, Argus Community, Camelot Counseling Centers, Credit Community, DAYTOP, Dynamic Youth Community, Educational Alliance, HELP/Project Samaritan, Horizon Health Services, Hospitality House, J-CAP, Lower Eastside Services Center, Odyssey House, Outreach Project, Palladia, Phoenix House Foundation, Renaissance, Samaritan Village, Stay'N Out/New York Therapeutic Communities and Veritas.

The support from New York TCA comes on the heels of endorsements of Schneiderman's bill from U.S. Sen. Kristen Gillibrand, a bipartisan coalition of 24 U.S. Representatives from throughout the state, the District Attorneys Association of the State of New York, the New York State Association of Chiefs of Police, the New York State Association of PBA's and the Police Benevolent Association of the New York State Troopers Inc. Thirty-four Senate and 49 assembly sponsors have signed onto the bill.

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