Statewide Database Aims to Decrease Opioid Abuse

SCRANTON -- Pennsylvania has a new tool to fight prescription abuse. Officials hope the new database will reduce the number of people who abuse painkillers.

Pennsylvania became the 49th state to have a prescription drug monitoring program.

The program allows doctors and pharmacists to see what medications a patient is already taking before writing out or filling a new prescription.

At Andrew Brown's Drug Store in Scranton, owner Michael Brown has access to a new, statewide database. Brow checks the database, before filling any prescription.

"It's a very important tool especially with the opioid crisis in the country, especially in Pennsylvania" said Brown.

It's called the prescription drug monitoring database. Doctors, dentists, and pharmacists are required to use the system to review a person's prescription history before putting them on opioid or other controlled substances.

"We're able in real time be able to check query the drug monitoring program," said Brown.

Officials hope the database will help stop so-called "doctor shopping". "Doctor shopping" happens when people addicted to painkillers go to more than one doctor for their prescriptions, or pay cash for early refills.

Michelle Matyjevich, sees the results of addiction in her work as director at the community intervention center in Scranton.

"We are a drop-in recovery center. The major clientele we deal with are drug and alcohol abusers and homeless people, so every day we are dealing with someone fighting an addiction," said Michelle Matyjevich.

Matyjevich is happy there is another tool to help her in her work.

"Prescription drug abuse, opioid drug abuse has been known to lead into other drug abuse, such as heroin addiction. If there is a way we can start to control it there and work our way up that'll be perfect," said Matyjevich.

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