Did It Have To Happen?
Three best practices in drug policy that could have helped prevent Michael Jackson’s death:
- Mandatory prescription data reporting and checking. State laws require dispensers of controlled substances, such as Valium, to report the dispensing to the state’s electronic prescription database. Health care practitioners must check this database before prescribing controlled substances to ensure the patient is not already taking similarly powerful medications.
If Michael Jackson were receiving controlled substance prescriptions from multiple prescribers, the prescribers would have taken notice when checking the electronic prescription database.
- Interstate data sharing. States exchange data from their prescription monitoring programs.
Prescriptions from practitioners in Nevada would have shown up in California’s database and vice versa.
- Red-flag reports. Anomalies in prescription data yield alerts to public health officials who investigate to protect the health and safety of patients and the public.
If Michael Jackson had been receiving quantities of controlled substances outside the norm, public health officials would have been alerted and could have investigated and intervened.