Prescription Drug Registry Saves Lives - | News, Weather & Sports in Billings, Montana

Prescription Drug Registry Saves Lives

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A national epidemic of prescription drug abuse is reportedly growing throughout the nation.

Hospitals and government agencies are coming together to buck the trend. "Those who are abusing will try to find ways to try and trick you, and it's up to us to catch them," Billings Clinic Pharmacist Aimee Hillis said.

Hillis said the Montana Prescription Drug Registry began in 2011, and it helps doctors and pharmacists recognize prescription drug abuse. "They are able to look at a general report that gives them a general feel of what the patient has been doing. So, they can give better care to the patient," Hillis said.

Hillis said anyone who purchases a controlled substance is added to the registry that every Montana pharmacy updates weekly. "For the main part we can see trends. So, someone who just started abusing didn't start on the last seven days. We'll be able to see in the last few months that they've gone to the last few pharmacies, gotten the same prescriptions, and that's when we'll notice the trend is what we're looking for," Hillis said.

Hillis said the purpose of the registry isn't to police patients, but it's to help those suffering addiction. "It's a good tool, because the doctor can actually confront the patient in the exam room, and say, 'hey, I've noticed this, and I'm here to help you," Hillis said.

Hillis said some people use prescription drugs for recreational purposes, but many become addicted after using for legitimate purposes. "We will see a lot of people with an actual diagnosis, but then they'll go to four or five different doctors to get more meds," Hillis said.

Aimee Hills said her staff is trained to recognize prescription abusers. Pharmacists will contact the doctor directly, turn the person away, or sometimes call police. According to Hillis, Billings Clinic shares prescription drug information with pharmacies and hospitals in Wyoming.