On Friday the Utah Department of Commerce released an updated prescription drug database for doctors. The goal is to curb opioid abuse by helping doctors tell if patients are being prescribed dangerous drug combinations.
Outside of the legislature, Republican state Senator Evan Vickers works as a pharmacist in Cedar City. In his line of work, it can be dangerous for patients to get multiple drugs prescribed from different doctors.
"If a patient is taking an opiate and muscle relaxant like Soma and a benzodiazepines like Valium, there’s a very high probability that that patient could overdose.
Since the mid ‘90s the Controlled Substance Database has been a way for Utah doctors and pharmacists to look up the medical history of patients to tell if they’re getting conflicting prescriptions or trying to get drugs for an addiction or to sell.
"For a long time physicians just didn’t use it," Vickers says of the database.
It was clunky and slow. Now, with a $550,000 investment, the database is being updated and integrated with electronic patient information.
Republican state Representative Brad Daw is a software engineer at Adobe. He’s focused on the technical side of the improvements.
"We want to try to streamline the workflow for the doctor as much as we possibly can," Daw says.
The database is a resource for doctors, so choosing what to prescribe is ultimately up to them.
Funding for these changes came out of several bills with fiscal notes during the 2016 and 2017 legislative sessions.