CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Last year, state legislators approved a package of bills aimed at making a dent in West Virginia's prescription drug abuse epidemic.
Among other things, the new laws toughened penalties for using false information to get a prescription, and will eventually make health providers write all prescriptions on tamper-proof pads.
This year, some lawmakers plan to focus on strengthening the state's prescription drug monitoring program, a database that tracks all prescriptions filled in the state. Experts say policymakers should also try to help more West Virginians access treatment for addiction.
West Virginia is one of 35 states with a prescription monitoring program, and the state Board of Pharmacy is working to link the database with some surrounding states.
Unlike many other states, though, West Virginia's monitoring system isn't proactive. By law, police, pharmacy and medical boards can only access the data during an investigation.
The system doesn't flag patterns of unusual prescribing. It doesn't send routine reports to health-care providers to track possible doctor shopping.