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Kansas’ Prescription Drug Monitoring Program Gets $178K Federal Grant

A prescription drug monitoring program in Kansas will receive a federal grant worth more than $178,000 to help fight the opioid crisis.

The Kansas Board of Pharmacy oversees K-TRACS, a system for monitoring prescriptions for controlled substances.

Board Executive Secretary Alexandra Blasi says doctors, dentists and pharmacists who participate in the program report their prescription activity to the state to verify a patient’s history.

"The goal of the program is really to prevent misuse, abuse and diversion of controlled substances while still encouraging and maintaining legitimate medical use in the communities," Blasi says.

Blasi says the funding from the U.S. Justice Department will be used to strengthen the program by providing a quarterly report for each prescriber in the state.

She says the report will allow the doctors, nurses, dentists, and other medical professionals to compare their prescription activity with others in their field.

K-TRACS began in 2011. Blasi says collecting prescription data is important because people who shop around for doctors and prescriptions can be “flagged” in the system. She says their data shows the number of these so-called “doctor shoppers” went from several hundred cases in recent years to about 158 cases last quarter.

"We have seen a significant trend down in that particular category," Blasi says. "And likewise, we have seen the number of registered individuals—prescribers and dispensers—that are actually using the system continue to go up, and that is excellent."

The pharmacy board is in the process of integrating K-TRACS data with all electronic medical and health record systems in the state.

Currently, prescribers and pharmacists log in to separate systems to query patient data which takes time away from patient care and interaction. Blasi says the integration simplifies the process by creating a one-stop-shop, making K-TRACS data directly available in the patient’s electronic record.

"When they pull up that person in their normal database, it will actually have a direct link to the K-TRACS data now and they will not have to get out and log in to a separate system," Blasi says. "So we know that makes it more user-friendly, and we hope that this will drive up our 50 percent of utilization to a much higher level in Kansas."

Blasi expects the integration to be completed by August 2019. It was funded by a $1.5 million grant from the CDC to the Kansas Department of Health and Environment last year. The Justice Department says in 2016, nearly 60,000 Americans lost their lives to drug overdoses, an increase from the 52,000 overdose deaths the year before. The majority of these deaths can be attributed to opioids, including illicit fentanyl and its analogues.

"We know that this is not as big of a problem in our state as it is in a state like Ohio that is really on the forefront of this opioid epidemic," Blasi says. "However, we have to recognize that this is a problem in our state, and it’s becoming increasingly so. The more we can do to combat that and prevent that from becoming a much larger issue, the better."

The Justice Department also awarded the City of Wichita $398,972 from the Adult Drug Court and Veterans Treatment Courts grant program. The grant is aimed at supporting drug courts that hold offenders accountable and reduce victimization by intervening early in the process to prevent crimes. It also supports programs to assist offenders who are veterans.

The grants are part of nearly $59 million the Justice Department will spend to strengthen drug court programs and address the opioid epidemic nationwide.

--Follow Deborah Shaar on Twitter @deborahshaar

 To contact KMUW News or to send in a news tip, reach us at news@kmuw.org.


Copyright 2017 KMUW | NPR for Wichita

Deborah joined the news team at KMUW in September 2014 as a news reporter. She spent more than a dozen years working in news at both public and commercial radio and television stations in Ohio, West Virginia and Detroit, Michigan. Before relocating to Wichita in 2013, Deborah taught news and broadcasting classes at Tarrant County College in the Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas area.