Indiana expands program to crack down on ‘doctor shopping’

As Indiana’s opioid epidemic continues to grow, the state is taking more steps to crack down on “doctor shopping,” fraudulent prescribing and inappropriate drug use.

Gov. Eric Holcomb announced Thursday the state will roll out a statewide platform that will allow medical professionals to review patients’ controlled-substance prescription history more quickly.

Armed with that information, they can “inform and educate” patients on their prescriptions, the state said in a written statement.

Health officials blame opioid addictions for contributing to the tripling of Indiana's heroin overdose deaths since 2010. The state reported 1,245 deaths from heroin overdoses in 2015, the latest figure available.

The platform will expand a similar program launched last year by the Indiana Professional Licensing Agency that allows pharmacies and hospitals to review prescription data. The earlier program has been adopted by Kroger Pharmacy and Deaconess Midtown Hospital in Evansville.

The expanded program will allow hospitals, doctors and pharmacies to tie into a database that shows prescribing information for patients, through their electronic health records.

The move will allow health-care professions to limit the number of controlled-substance prescriptions “that contribute to our state’s devastating drug crisis,” Holcomb said in a statement.

The state said it would spend about $1.3 million between now and June 2019. The Indiana Hospital Association said in a statement it applauded news that the state would “fund full integration” of the program.

“This statewide initiative will offer health care providers a more complete health record with one click, enhancing patient care and facilitating appropriate prescribing of controlled substances,” Brian Tabor, president of the hospital association, said.

The initiative is the state’s latest move to try to combat the escalating opioid epidemic. Last month, the state added treatment programs at five sites where Hoosiers can receive medical help managing their addictions.

And last year, the Indiana General Assembly passed two laws aimed at reducing methamphetamine production. One measure would allow regular pharmacy customers to buy pseudophedrine medicine, which is a key ingredient in meth, as usual, but would give pharmacists the leeway to sell limited quantities to unfamiliar customers before requiring a prescription.

The other law would add drug offenders to a national pseudophedrine tracking system and would ban offenders from buying such medicine without a prescription.

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