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Florida’s Department of Health is recommending that the state share information from its new database that tracks prescription pain medicine with other states.

“Sharing data helps in breaking up drug-diversion rings of organized doctor shoppers and pill mills that work across state lines,” John Eadie, Director of the Prescription Monitoring Program Center of Excellence at Brandeis University, told the Sun-Sentinel. “With that sharing, physicians in Florida will know what patients have obtained in other states.”

Florida’s drug database became operational on September 1. Health care practitioners can check the database to see whether patients have recently received prescriptions. The goal of the database is to prevent “doctor shopping” for painkillers.

According to the newspaper, 5,502 dispensers of prescription drugs have entered data for 21.2 million prescription records so far. Less than 10 percent of pharmacists have registered with the program, the highest rate among licensed health care professionals. Law enforcement officers have requested data 36 times.

The report notes that in 2009, about 223,700 prescriptions for controlled substances that were written in Florida were filled by pharmacists in Alabama, Louisiana, North Carolina, Arizona and Vermont.

James Giglio, Executive Director of the Alliance of States with Prescription Monitoring Programs, said 48 states have legislation to create prescription drug monitoring programs, and three dozen programs are now in operation. Some states are already sharing information from their prescription drug monitoring databases, the article notes.

Florida approved its drug monitoring database in April. Florida has been a destination for people from other states who have been flocking to storefront pain clinics, known as “pill mills,” to stock up on prescription drugs such as OxyContin, Vicodin and Xanax.

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