- Associated Press - Thursday, December 31, 2015

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) - Beginning this spring, most doctors will be required to register and use a state database of patients’ prescription history. Here’s a look at South Carolina’s painkiller abuse problem and current use of the Prescription Monitoring Program:

-Last fiscal year, 291.4 million opiates were dispensed statewide to 1.2 million patients. Compared to the previous year, that’s 18.6 million more opiates to 670 fewer patients.

-In 2014, at least 487 South Carolinians died by accidentally overdosing on a prescription drug. That’s up from 236 in 2013 and 225 in 2012. The state’s public health agency doesn’t track how many of those were painkiller prescriptions.

-The database helped lead to 400 arrests last fiscal year. Charges included controlled substance fraud, doctor shopping and prescription forging. Health care professionals made up a quarter of those arrested. The agency doesn’t track case outcomes.

-About 4,300 doctors have registered to use the database. That’s little change from last year. However, those registered are consulting it more often. Doctors and pharmacists ran more than 1 million queries on patients in the fiscal year ending June 30. That’s nearly 417,000 more than the previous year. The increase follows a June 2014 law allowing them to authorize a delegate, such as a nurse, to run the query for them. The agency didn’t breakdown the query numbers by doctors and pharmacists.

-That law also required doctors to complete two credit hours of training on responsibly prescribing opioids as part of their license renewal. So far, more than 7,500 doctors have done so.

-The annual operating cost of the more user-friendly database launched Nov. 23 is $102,000.


Source: South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control

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