Secretary of State ‘Heartbroken’ by Opioid Problem, Wants Legislature to Act

Give more patient, prescriber data to database to fight opioid crisis, says secretary of state audit report

An audit released by the Oregon secretary of state today said the state falls short when addressing opioid misuse and abuse. To overcome the state’s opioid problem, the report urged the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) to work with the Legislature to increase the power of the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PDMP).

Secretary of State Dennis Richardson said the report left him “heartbroken.”

“Oregon badly needs more tools to address the opioid crisis, reduce substance abuse and help victims. We can do better, and this audit identifies concrete solutions that can help save lives,” he said in a statement.

To overcome the crisis, the audit report found that OHA could benefit from a better PDMP, which collects information on controlled substance prescriptions within the state.

PDMP in Oregon currently analyzes data on Schedules II, III and IV drugs. Data sent to the organization include patient name, address, phone number, pharmacy, and prescriber and prescription information.

The report said that Oregon is one of nine states that does not require prescribers or pharmacies to use the PDMP before an opioid is prescribed. However, if the state enforced using PDMP, it would reduce opioid misuse and other issues, the report found.

In addition, the report goes on to say Oregon’s PDMP doesn’t go far enough. It doesn’t monitor prescriptions filled — such as those filled by veterinarians and Schedule V prescriptions.

The report recommended that OHA work with the Oregon Legislature to strengthen the PDMP. This includes allowing the group to conduct and share analyses on prescriptions made and received by patients, as well as to prepare and send reports to state licensing boards and law enforcement.

So far, Senate Republican Leader Jackie Winters has issued support to Richardson’s recommendations, saying in a statement that she hopes the Legislature will strongly consider some of the recommendations outlined in the report.

No word from the Democratic Party state leadership yet, who hold a supermajority in Salem.

The report said Oregon ranked nearly last nationally in offering adolescents treatment and recovery options for substance use disorders. In addition, the state has the highest rate of seniors who are hospitalized for opioid-related issues — such as overdose, abuse and dependence.

Read the full report here.