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State launches new prescription drug monitoring program

person shaking prescription pills from bottle into hand
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Michigan is updating what state officials call a useful tool for fighting the opioid epidemic.

The problematic state drug monitoring program has gotten a significant facelift. The system is used primarily by law enforcement and doctors to flag potential prescription drug abuse and better treat patients. 

Lieutenant Governor Brian Calley chaired the task force that recommended the system update. He said tracking medications is an important tool for doctors, especially when it comes to potential opioid abuse by a patient.

“The system here doesn’t make decisions for doctors,” he said. “The decision does not say when it is appropriate for a doctor to prescribe or not to prescribe. It simply is aimed at ensuring that the doctor has all of the information that they need in order to make the best decision.”

The old tracking system was not very fast and plagued by problems. Kim Gaedeke is the state director of professional licensing. She said not only is the new system faster, it’s also a lot more user friendly.

“I actually learned how to configure the system,” she said. “So, I’m not technical at all and I know how to go in there and configure the system if need be or go in and correct anything within the system.”

Gaedeke said they received a call from one doctor. He was concerned the system was broken because it was working so fast, Gaedeke said.

Health care professionals are not currently required to use the system, but Calley says they hope lawmakers make it a requirement once they prove the new system works.

Before becoming the newest Capitol reporter for the Michigan Public Radio Network, Cheyna Roth was an attorney. She spent her days fighting it out in court as an assistant prosecuting attorney for Ionia County. Eventually, Cheyna took her investigative and interview skills and moved on to journalism. She got her masters at Michigan State University and was a documentary filmmaker, podcaster, and freelance writer before finding her home with NPR. Very soon after joining MPRN, Cheyna started covering the 2016 presidential election, chasing after Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, and all their surrogates as they duked it out for Michigan. Cheyna also focuses on the Legislature and criminal justice issues for MPRN. Cheyna is obsessively curious, a passionate storyteller, and an occasional backpacker. Follow her on Twitter at @Cheyna_R
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