A bill signed into law by Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin earlier this year established two systems to track cash payments and identify abusers. One tracks pseudoephedrine purchases, a common ingredient in methamphetamine production, and another tracks narcotics, Stevens said.
"It records the name of the patient, the name of the drug, the name of the physician who prescribed it and the name of the pharmacy that dispensed it," he said.
Importantly, there are also records of how the patient paid for it, he said.
He said the "prescription pill loophole" doesn't exist under the new law because certified police officers can access the data to identify abusers. Those police officers, particularly State Police troopers, are trained in federal health privacy laws. Recently, he said sheriffs have expressed interest in gaining access to the data.
"We have some concern with that, not for the intent but from a patient confidentially perspective," Stevens said. "We don't want to allow too many individuals to have access to that data."
Bricker said the PBM data would be used to identify doctors who prescribe too many narcotics and wouldn't seek to target individuals.
More than 152,000 West Virginians have a prescription pill addiction and drug overdose is the leading cause of death for residents under 45, according to data compiled by the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources.
Earlier this year, a proposal to make pseudoephedrine prescription-only was defeated in the state Senate. Retailers and the pharmaceutical industry opposed the proposal because they say the restriction would burden consumers and drive up health-care costs.
Reach Travis Crum at travis.c...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5163.