Fitzpatrick Bill Cracks Down on ‘Doctor Shopping’

Bipartisan Measure Supports State Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs

November 3, 2017

WASHINGTON, D.C. –  Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick (PA-08) introduced legislation this week to expand the use of state programs aimed at cracking down on ‘doctor shopping’ in response to the opioid epidemic. The Monitoring and Obtaining Needed Information to Track Opioids Responsibly (MONITOR) Act [H.R. 4236] provides for baseline requirements that urge states to utilize and maximize the use of Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs (PDMPs) to track controlled-substance purchases.

“The opioid epidemic is sweeping our nation, and it is vital that we protect our community from the pain and suffering the misuse of opioids causes. 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.”

The MONITOR Act incentivizes states to have a PDMP that meets minimum requirements and directs each state to use a portion of federal HHS grants to meet the requirements. The measure requires dispensers to report each disbursement of a controlled substance within one business day and meet baseline standards of interoperability for state systems to share information. Additionally, the legislation authorizes an advisory group composed of community pharmacists and other critical health practitioners who prescribe and dispense medication to make future recommendations.

The bill is co-sponsored by Bipartisan Heroin Task Force chairs Rep. Ann Kuster (D-NH) and Rep. Tom MacArthur (R-NJ), and fellow vice-chair Rep. Donald Norcross (D-NJ).

What they’re saying about the MONITOR Act:

  • Bucks Co. District Attorney Matt Weintraub: “For years, we’ve been frustrated by the loopholes that prescription drug abusers have been able to exploit when getting their prescriptions from doctors, despite Pennsylvania’s optional Prescription Drug Monitoring Program. Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick and his colleagues will close these loopholes with passage of the MONITOR Act by mandating pharmacists use of the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program across the nation.  Passage of this act will certainly help law enforcement curtail prescription drug abuse and fraud, and is an extraordinary step in the right direction in this battle.”
  • Diane Rosati - Executive Director for the Bucks Co. Drug and Alcohol Commission: “The Bucks County Drug and Alcohol Commission, Inc. wholeheartedly supports the Monitoring and Obtaining Needed Information to Track Opioids Responsibly “MONITOR” Act. Every community is affected by this widespread and unprecedented opiate and overdose epidemic.  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, MD - Performance Spine and Sports Medicine: “In the interest of taking control of the opioid pain medication epidemic that has taken so many lives, I want to extend my support for the MONITOR ACT and the immediate benefits that it will provide me as a physician and the patients that I’m treating.  Furthermore, the MONITOR ACT needs to have financial teeth in the form of funding so that it can be successfully implemented nationwide and to provide technical assistance and training necessary for professionals that will be using PDMs.  It is imperative that all states begin to not only offer but mandate prescription drug monitoring programs nationwide.  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.  This empowers me as a medical doctor to prevent patients that participate in ‘Doctor Shopping’ from doing so.  Furthermore, it allows for symmetry of information to exist between myself and other physicians, pharmacists, regulatory bodies and law enforcement agencies which is absolutely necessary to comprehensively control this epidemic that we face as a country and that is ravaging our local communities regardless of background.  PDMs would also serve as a great platform to predict trends as collectively all the input from individual physicians and pharmacists can be gathered and evaluated.”
  • Steve Anderson - CEO of the National Association of Chain Drug Stores: “NACDS appreciates Congressman Fitzpatrick's leadership in advancing legislation to create a truly interoperable prescription drug monitoring program (PDMP) solution. Pharmacists serve patients and their communities on the front lines of healthcare delivery, and based on their experiences it is more and more clear that a more unified approach to a PDMP will provide more complete and useful information to prescribers and dispensers alike. That will increase the potential for a PDMP to be helpful in assuring that controlled substances make their way into the right hands only. The concept behind Congressman Fitzpatrick's legislation is consistent with comprehensive new public policy recommendations that NACDS has announced, and we thank him for his proactive engagement on this crucial issue.”
  • Pam Garozzo – Bucks Co. mother: “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.  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.”
  • The Livengrin Foundation: "Livengrin supports the MONITOR legislation that is badly needed to address the illegal distribution of prescription opiods.  MONITOR would make it much harder for dealers to "doctor shop" or "pharmacy shop" across state lines. As one of the largest addiction treatment centers in the Philadelphia region, Livengrin is only an hour's drive from four other states which all have separate prescription reporting and monitoring systems.  Just like current law enforcement  databases, this new program will provide much needed standardization to allow communication between dispensers of opioids around the country.  MONITOR's passage would be a significant leap forward in preventing illegal opioids from hitting our streets."
  • Jim Brexler, President/CEO and Brenda Foley, MD, Assistant Director of Emergency Medicine - Doylestown Health: "The opioid epidemic is extracting a horrific cost of lives and relationships, and requires the expeditious and dedicated response of healthcare providers in ways unimaginable in just a few short years. Doylestown Health created the “Narcotic Responsible Emergency Department” in 2011 as the crisis was developing to coordinate emergency care and opioid prescriptions with community physicians. Although we have accomplished the goal of appropriately treating pain and greatly reducing the number of prescriptions and pills dispensed by Doylestown Hospital, the national opioid epidemic grows more persistent with each passing day. Doylestown Health enthusiastically supports The MONITOR Act introduced by our congressman, Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick. We hope others in Congress and throughout the nation will also get behind this bi-partisan legislation to better track the disbursement of controlled substances, set an aggressive minimum requirement for Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs nationwide, and improve the healthcare industry’s response to the epidemic."