Gov. McAullife Signs New Measures to Prevent Addicts from Acquiring Drugs

Jun 23, 2016

In 2014, almost 1,000 people died from opiate overdose in Virginia -- and that number is trending upwards, not down. A state task force created a number of proposals to help stem the epidemic, and Governor Terry McAuliffe signed three of those measures into law today. The primary goal? To help prevent addicts from acquiring drugs.

Credit Creative Commons/David K

It’s called “doctor shopping” -- and it’s often how addicts or dealers get access to prescription drugs like Percocet, oxycodone, or methadone.

“It’s not uncommon for people who are addicted to opiates, or who want to traffic in opiates, to go around from doctor to doctor seeking prescriptions.”

Senator Jennifer Wexton, a Democrat from Northern Virginia, sponsored a new law that makes doctor shopping harder to do.

In Virginia, there’s a database called the Prescription Monitoring Program -- or PMP. Doctors and nurses can enter what they prescribe to whom, and other healthcare providers can then access that information. But at the moment, providers have 7 days to update the database.

Wexton’s law changes that period of time, to 24 hours.

“Because the PMP is a fantastic resource, but we can all agree that it’s of limited utility when data is 7 days old.”

Ralph Orr manages the prescription monitoring program.

“For the first time there’s a real message there that a doctor needs to use the PMP when they’re going to prescribe an opioid that will last for more than 14 days. We expect that to increase our usage by 10 to 30-percent.”

The new laws also expand WHO can access the PMP, so it’s easier for all healthcare providers to use.