More Arizona doctors to check prescription histories under new mandate

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(Source 3TV/CBS 5) (Source 3TV/CBS 5)
(Source 3TV/CBS 5) (Source 3TV/CBS 5)
PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -

In the first half of 2017, prescribers handed out more than 227 million opioid pills, enough to give every Arizonan 33 pills. It’s a number that could drop in the near future because of a new mandate by the state.

Prescribers, in most cases, will now have to check the Controlled Substance Prevention Monitoring Program (CSPMP) before writing a prescription for opioids and other powerful drugs.

[RELATED: Arizona opioid crisis: Potential overdoses increase in first week of July]

“This is why the opioid problem, the opioid epidemic is so bad. You were able to just get it without anyone having to check something,” said Andrew Jacobson, a former opioid addict.

Jacobson began receiving opioid prescriptions in the Army after being injured. When he left the military he had an addiction and began visiting different doctors offices in Illinois in hopes of getting a new prescription.

“I would go to different counties, to different immediate cares in different counties so I knew there was nothing that was going to be attached to it,” he explained. “I’d get a handshake. I’d get a pat on the back. The whole time knowing I just got over on this doctor. And now I am going to go do it again.”

[RELATED: Opioid overdose deaths increased in Arizona this summer]

At the peak of his pill addiction, Jacobson would take 25 pills a day. Doctors were not considering his prescription past. If they had, they would have seen an addictive pattern. Jacobson only got caught when he went to the same doctor for a second time in the same day.

Chances are, if Illinois had a mandatory monitoring program in place at the time of Jacobson’s addiction, they would have caught on to his scheme before things went from bad to worse. He’d eventually turn to heroin and used for three years. Clean now, he sees the benefit of a system where doctors can intervene.

“It starts with a conversation. Because without that initial conversation, maybe that person doesn’t understand that they’re an addict,” he said.

[RELATED: Report: Highest opioid overdose deaths in AZ in 10 years]

Thirty-six states now have some sort of drug monitoring mandate. In Arizona the CSPMP tells prescribers about recent dosages and number of recent doctor’s visits.

“In other states where there are mandates to check the PDMP, we found that in those states, the rate of patients having a high level of multiple prescribers has gone down. So we would expect to see some of those outcomes in Arizona as well,” said Shelia Sjolander, assistant director for prevention services at the state health department.

Forty-one percent of people who experience a suspected opioid overdose and had a prescription recorded in the drug monitoring program, have been prescribed by 10 or more providers. There’s a clear link that this mandate aims to address.

“Many people are not fond of mandates. Nobody wants to have a mandate. But I think largely, folks understand the need for it,” said Sjolander.

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