ALBANY -- Two hundred miles away from the tragedy in Medford, lawmakers have submitted bills that they said would significantly improve the ability of physicians and pharmacists to monitor drug prescriptions.
Advocates said the measures would prevent "doctor shopping," in which addicts go from doctor to doctor to acquire a surfeit of painkillers such as oxycodone.
State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has put forward legislation to create a database tracking prescribed drugs online to help prevent overprescribing, shut down prescription drug trafficking, and identify and treat patients who abuse prescription drugs. He said it would address a growing "epidemic."
Pharmacists are required to twice a month report prescriptions they have filled to the state. By putting the information online, and requiring it to be updated whenever a prescription is written or filled, doctors and pharmacists would be able to check whether customers have been getting multiple prescriptions for the same drug before it is dispensed. Also, pharmacists would be able to verify whether a prescription was valid before filling it.
Currently, 48 states have enacted some type of database to track prescriptions. Schneiderman said the proposal would make New York the first to have the information online and updated in real time.
"Across New York and on Long Island, our hospitals and treatment facilities are reporting greater rates of prescription drug abuse amongst teens and young adults," Schneiderman said in a statement.
The Schneiderman bill was introduced late in the session and was unlikely to be approved this session, forcing supporters to target next year.
Ray Malone, brother of the ex-husband of Medford pharmacy shooting victim Jaime Taccetta, said Schneiderman's bill was "a beginning but it's got to be much bigger." Calling for a central national registry, Malone said single state legislation would be "toothless" because addicts would merely move, or drive, across state lines to pharmacies or doctors who could supply them.
"These murders show us the extent to which addicts go to secure these drugs," he said, referring to last Sunday's shooting at Haven Drugs in Medford that left Taccetta, of Farmingville, and three others dead. "Crossing state lines is easier than shooting people. To be effective, we need federal legislation."
With Sarah Crichton and Kery Murakami