67° F

4 million prescriptions uploaded to monitoring program

Published On: Jun 13 2013 06:39:44 PM CDT   Updated On: Jun 13 2013 07:18:41 PM CDT
Prescription drugs, pills

David Rust/CNN


More than four million prescriptions have been uploaded to the state of Wisconsin's prescription drug monitoring program in the less than two weeks since it's come on line.

Wisconsin became the 45th state in the country to require doctors and pharmacists to put information about painkillers into a computer database on June 1.

"Doctors for years have been asking for this ability to monitor drug use by their patients," said Dave Ross, secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Safety and Professional Services. "And how can they monitor drug use by their patients if there are other prescribers they don't know about."

Pain medication represents roughly 20 percent of all prescriptions dispensed in Wisconsin. While the medical community is able to see patient records, it is bound by federal privacy laws that prevents it from sharing with law enforcement unless under a court order.

"Doctors now have a tool to monitor how much prescription drugs their patients are taking and patients will no longer be able to hide prescription activity they have with another dispenser or physician in the state," said Ross.

Nancy Meyer and John Norwell know the new program comes weeks too late to save their son, C.J., who suffered from mental health issues and prescription drug abuse when he died on May 18. The 30-year-old who loved art, World War II history and Muskie fishing, had perfected what's called doctor shopping, or going from medical facility to medical facility to get narcotics, his parents say.

"He would go to the emergency room and say ‘I was in a serious car accident’ and he would do this over and over and over again to get the pills," Meyer said. "His choices were based on that addiction and it's just so sad to see someone go through that."

C.J.'s parents said they are sharing his story to encourage families dealing with both mental issues and prescription drug addictions to seek help.

"Addiction envelops people, they're not themselves," said C.J.'s father, John Norwell. "Their mindset is getting their next medication."

Norwell said he believes the new prescription drug monitoring program can help future families avoid the grief he still feels.

"I think if this is done early on and is caught," he said, "there's a lot of hope for a lot of people."

For more information on Wisconsin's Prescription Drug Monitoring Program, click here:

  • Safest Cities - Honolulu

    Marco Garcia/Getty Images

    4. Honolulu, Hawaii

    US cities where residents feel safest

    Gallup-Healthways has ranked the U.S. cities that feel the safest to residents.  How a city ranked on the list was based on how it measured in perceived safety, financial security and sense of community. Click through for the top 20.

  • Takata


    12 biggest auto recalls

    Over 2 million more vehicles were added to official lists of models being recalled because of potentially dangerous airbags made by Japanese manufacturer Takata. The recall now totals about 36 million vehicles worldwide. Take a look at the biggest auto recalls in history.

  • Fidel sign Cuba

    Getty Images

    Looking back: U.S.-Cuba relations

    The United States officially removed Cuba from its list of countries that sponsor terrorism on Friday . Get up to speed on the last five decades of American foreign policy toward Cuba.