Alcohol and Drugs News on the Internet

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Doctors and pharmacists can begin using Florida’s new drug monitoring database on Monday. The database is designed to reduce prescription drug abuse by preventing people from “doctor shopping” for painkillers. Health care professionals who use the system will receive reports on patient prescription histories, which will help them detect possible patterns of drug abuse.

Using the database is not mandatory for doctors and pharmacists. A state senator who was a key supporter of the new legislation, Mike Fasano, told the Orlando Sentinel he will propose a bill next year to make its use compulsory.

Pharmacies must report information to the database within a week of dispensing drugs including oxycodone, the newspaper reports. Pharmacies and doctors already have entered more than 15 million prescriptions into the system.

The Florida Medical Association and the Florida Osteopathic Medical Association are encouraging their members to use the database, the article notes. Tad Fisher, Executive Vice President of the Florida Academy of Family Physicians, said it is useful in cases when doctors don’t know a patient.

The database was approved by Florida legislators in 2009, but Governor Rick Scott said he opposed it because of privacy concerns. In June, he signed into law a bill that authorized the drug monitoring database. It also imposes new penalties for physicians who overprescribe medication and stricter rules for operating pharmacies.

Federal authorities estimate that 85 percent of oxycodone is sold in Florida. Many of the sales are to people who come from out of state and then resell the pills illegally.

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