By MATTHEW PERRONE
AP Health Writer
WASHINGTON (AP) - The nation’s top health officials are stepping up calls to require doctors to log in to pill-tracking databases before prescribing painkillers and other high-risk drugs.
The move is part of a multi-pronged strategy by the Obama administration to tame an epidemic of abuse and death tied to opioid painkillers like Vicodin and OxyContin. But physician groups see a requirement to check databases before prescribing popular drugs for pain, anxiety and other ailments as being overly burdensome.
Helping push the administration’s effort forward is an unusual, multi-million lobbying campaign funded by a former corporate executive who has turned his attention to fighting addiction.
“Their role is to say what needs to be done, my role is to get it done,” says Gary Mendell, CEO of the non-profit Shatterproof, which is lobbying in state capitals to tighten prescribing standards for addictive drugs.
Mendell founded the group in 2011, after his son committed suicide following years of addiction to painkillers. Previously Mendell was CEO of HEI Hotels and Resorts, which operates upscale hotels. To date, Mendell has invested $4.1 million of his own money in the group to hire lobbyists, public relations experts and 12 full-time staffers.