Senator Jay Rockefeller, Chairman of the Finance Subcommittee on Health Care, and Senator Joe Manchin, along with Congressman Nick Rahall and Governor Earl Ray Tomblin, today announced $450,000 in federal funding to support West Virginia's prescription drug monitoring project. The funding would enable the integration of the project into electronic health records and pharmacy systems. These efforts will help make sure prescribers are aware of patients who have histories of abuse or are doctor shopping.
"Prescription drug abuse is a public health crisis in West Virginia and the nation," said Senator Rockefeller, Chairman of the Finance Subcommittee on Health Care, a longtime advocate for solutions to ending prescription drug abuse in West Virginia. "This funding will go to West Virginia's prescription drug monitoring project, which can play a key role in preventing prescription drug abuse. We need comprehensive solutions to this crisis, and prescription drug monitoring is a crucial component. I've been working to tackle this issue head on, and I'm so glad the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration is bringing a course right to West Virginia, at my request, on September 28 in Lewisburg to keep this dialogue going and allow our health care professionals discuss what they can do to reduce the likelihood of abuse among patients." Rockefeller has introduced several bills to address this issue, as well as convened roundtables and held hearings to bring more attention on prescription drug abuse.
"Drug abuse is tearing too many of our families and too many of our communities apart, and all of us are working hard to put an end to this epidemic," said Senator Manchin. "The fact is, drug abuse means that too many able-bodied folks can't find good jobs, and that employers are having a tough time trying to hire good employees. I'm determined to push through my legislation to make it harder for people to abuse addictive prescription drugs, and I will work with my colleagues on both side of the aisle on commonsense approaches to this problem."
"Among the most cost effective, long term measures we can take is prevention and monitoring," said Congressman Rahall, a senior member of the Congressional Caucus on Prescription Drug Abuse, who has been active and vocal in promoting federal legislation to attack the scourge of drug abuse in West Virginia. "Our State Police, Attorney General, and even physicians have stressed the need for access to a prescription drug monitoring system that is shared between state lines and updated in real time. That's why I have introduced and supported legislation to authorize federal funding to help our states create and maintain prescription drug monitoring programs, along with consumer and prescriber education programs."
"This grant will help make our prescription drug monitoring program more user friendly for physicians and hospitals in West Virginia," said Governor Tomblin. "We will soon integrate information into pharmacy and emergency department computer systems allowing us to detect those patients who are more likely to overuse controlled substances. This is a critical step in rescuing our families and communities from drug addiction."
The funding for this grant comes from the U.S Department of Health and Human Services' Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.