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August 22, 2016

Pennsylvania launching database to monitor drug prescriptions

Pa. was one of a few states without a database

A new tool in Pennsylvania's effort to curb prescription drug abuse will become available later this week.

The state's Department of Health will launch a database Thursday that will track information about prescription drugs distributed to patients.

The effort is part of the department's Prescription Drug Monitoring Program to combat the opioid epidemic.

According to state health officials, 80 percent of heroin users began using due to abuse of prescription medication.

In October 2014, Governor Tom Corbett signed Act 191 into state law that required the monitoring of all controlled substances with the potential for abuse such as oxycodone, fentanyl and amphetamine.

The legislation aimed to make it easier for doctors and law enforcement agencies to identify patterns in a person's prescription history.

Nearly two years later, Pennsylvania will join 48 other states in having a program to oversee drug prescriptions.

In June, pharmacists were required to begin submitting information into the database. Under state law, every prescription for controlled substances that is filled must be uploaded to the system within 72 hours.

Now, doctors will be required to check the database when prescribing controlled substances to a person for the first time.

Patients will also have the ability to review the collected information. They can send requests to correct information once per calendar quarter at no cost. After that, it will require a fee of $20.

The state health department will be responsible for the operation of the database.

For more information, visit the Pennsylvania Department of Health website.