Fitzpatrick bill would curb “doctor shopping” for opioid drug prescriptions

U.S. Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA) last week introduced the bipartisan Monitoring and Obtaining Needed Information to Track Opioids Responsibly (MONITOR) Act to address the “doctor shopping” problem that has emerged from the opioid crisis reaching every corner of the nation.

H.R. 4236 would require that states receiving grant funds through the Account for the State Response to the Opioid Abuse Crisis under the 21st Century Cures Act meet certain minimum requirements in their Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs (PDMPs). States would be encouraged to maximize the use of PDMPs to track controlled-substance purchases under the bill, Fitzpatrick’s office said.

“This bipartisan legislation provides the pathway to efficiency and effectiveness in the use of grant funds tied to Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs,” said Fitzpatrick, vice-chair for the Bipartisan Heroin Task Force. “Our nation’s drug epidemic is a complicated issue, and our response must be multi-faceted; that means reducing unnecessary dispensing of prescriptions by tracking and reporting information that allows physicians, pharmacists, and other health professionals to make informed clinical decisions and identify unseemly prescribing trends.”

Under the legislation, for states to receive grant funding, they must require prescription dispensers to report every dispensing of a controlled substance listed in schedules II, III, or IV of the Controlled Substances Act to the PDMP no later than one business day after dispensing to the patient. The PDMPs would also be required to report the information to medical practitioners on a timely basis.

The bill is cosponsored by Bipartisan Heroin Task Force chairs Reps. Tom MacArthur (R-NJ) and Ann Kuster (D-NH), as well as Donald Norcross (D-NJ), who also serves as vice-chair of the task force.

In Fitzpatrick’s district, a parent touched by opiate addiction and those who work with the afflicted and their families commended his legislation.

“As a mother who lost her son to a fentanyl overdose, I support the MONITOR Act so that lives can be saved. This Act will spare families like mine from going through the devastating loss of a loved one,” said Pam Garozzo, a Bucks County resident. “I believe that The MONITOR Act will result in significantly reducing the abuse of prescription opioid use in our country. Last year, almost one third of the drug overdoses were from synthetic opioids.”

The Bucks County Drug and Alcohol Commission also expressed support for the MONITOR Act. The commission works on prevention, education, intervention, and treatment for county residents and contracts with prevention and treatment service agencies.

“Every community is affected by this widespread and unprecedented opiate and overdose epidemic,” said the commission’s Executive Director Diane Rosati. “One key area in this multi-pronged approach is addressing prescribing practices and prescription drug monitoring, which will ultimately assist physicians in their daily practice as well as assist patients who are in need of referral to treatment or recovery support services.”

Joseph Jimenez, M.D., of Performance Spine and Sports Medicine, offered a local doctor’s perspective. “As a physician that practices in both New Jersey and Pennsylvania, I can professionally attest to the benefits that come from PDM programs. They allow me to assess the amount and frequency of disbursements of controlled substances.”