MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) – In an effort to fight the ongoing battle with opioids here in South Carolina, doctors are now required by law to consult a database before prescribing narcotics.
This database will tell doctors the medication history for the patient. Pharmacists have had access to this database for years. Now, it is a legal requirement that doctors consult this database before prescribing pain medication longer than five days.
Dr. Jon Pangia, emergency medical director at Grand Strand Medical Center, said that there are two goals to this mandate.
"What this mandate does is try to help prevent more people from becoming addicted, but, the secondary part is that yes, those who are already addicted are going to have a tougher time getting their opioids," he said
According to Pangia, pain medication could be to blame for what turns into addiction.
"What we've found is that those prescriptions, when they're longer than five days, or if they're refilled, have a parabolic increase in the rate of people's addiction to this medication," he said.
Although there is no required action doctors are legally required to take after they check the database, Pangia said they will use their best judgment on whether to prescribe the patient more medication.
Access to the database doesn't't cost any money, just a little more time. However, for Daniel Bundrick, owner of Surfside Beach Pharmacy, it's worth it.
"I know it's going to take more time for the physicians to do this, but I think it is good to protect society in general, the patients. It's another layer of security," Bundrick said.
He added he and his pharmacy have been referring to the database for years now.
"We can look to make sure they haven't gone to another pharmacy to fill it previously or early." Bundrick said.
After having already been implemented in other states, Pangia said this method is proven to be successful. According to the Centers for Disease Control, Florida saw more than a 50 percent decrease in oxycodone overdose deaths in 2012 after establishing a prescription drug monitoring program.
Doctors here in South Carolina will only be required to consult this database before prescribing pain medication for longer than five days. If they don't, they will face legal ramifications.