New York doctors now required to check statewide drug database when prescribing painkillers

A new state law requires doctors to check a database before prescribing controlled substances.

New York doctors, physician assistants and nurse practitioners are now required to check the new statewide drug database before prescribing painkillers, with pharmacists responsible for recording the related prescriptions they fill.

The law was enacted last year and took effect Tuesday. It's meant to help practitioners review patients' drug histories through the state health department's online registry.

Kashual Nanavati, a Family Practitioner at SUNY Upstate says learning and adapting to the new system could impact everything from wait times to clinical frustration.

"For offices that don't already have that system or don't have computer access readily available for doctor it's going to be that much more cumbersome and that can take up a lot of time," says Nanavati.

At this point, the new procedure should not impact the amount of time you wait to pick up your prescriptions because all of the work should be done at the doctor's office.

William Wojnowicz is the Supervising Pharmacist at the Wegmans Pharmacy in Dewitt.

"Right now there is no requirement for pharmacies to actually access the database before dispensing a prescription so there is not a long changing on the pharmacy level," says Wojnowicz.

But that might not last forever.

"At some point, down the road I think the pharmacists will have a mandate to check the database," says Wojnowicz.

The state health department has advised the late surge of practitioners trying to establish database accounts to prescribe the old way while the backlog is cleared.

Attorney General Eric Schneiderman proposed the law. He says the Internet System for Tracking Over-Prescribing should help reduce dangerous misuse of potentially addictive prescription painkillers by requiring some 50,000 practitioners to check the database. That should "send up a red flag" if patients are hoarding drugs from several sources.