ST. GEORGE — New York and New Jersey have started sharing patients' prescription histories to make it harder for addicts to fill the same prescription for opioids.
Both states now share the information through the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy's "InterConnect" database to attempt to prevent the resale and stockpiling of opioids.
"We know that addicts of prescription pills here on Staten Island often go to New Jersey and other nearby states to circumvent the monitoring system we have in place," McMahon said.
"The 'InterConnect' will allow us to track any individuals here and in New Jersey and will help to keep these drugs out of the wrong hands and off our streets."
In 2012, New York passed the I-STOP program that created a database of people's prescription histories to try and stop "doctor shopping" — visiting multiple doctors to obtain several prescriptions of the same drug.
I-STOP leads many addicts to get their drugs from pharmacies in New Jersey instead, McMahon said.
Cusick, who worked on getting the I-STOP legislation passed, said, "It was always a plan after it was in place to then share with other states' information.
"There have been proposals at the federal level to do a database, but we cannot wait for that."
Since the two states started to share the information on April 16, McMahon said that doctors already requested more than 16,000 controlled substance records.
Staten Island has been in the throes of a prescription drug and heroin epidemic with the borough having the highest numbers of accidental overdoses in the city, according to the city's Department of Health.
Since January, there have been about 35 suspected ODs in the borough and, if it continues on this trend, McMahon expects this year to have a higher rate than 2014.
"There's no question that if you look at the frequency, the ferocity and just the breadth throughout the population that the situation is as bad or getting worse than the year before," McMahon said.
In February, McMahon started a program to investigate every suspected overdose death to try and trace the source of the drugs and his office has looked into 23 so far.
McMahon also said his office has noticed that about a third of overdoses deaths in the borough are not correctly reported for various reasons and they're working to fix those numbers.