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Two-thirds of pharmacists and 90 percent of doctors in Florida are not using the state’s prescription drug database, according to federal officials. Bills that would have required both professions to use the database failed to pass during this year’s session.

A state House bill would have required doctors and pharmacists to check the database before writing or filling a prescription for addictive medications. A state Senate bill would have required doctors to consult the database. Florida approved $500,000 to keep the database in operation for another year, WUSF reports.

Florida established the database in 2010 in an attempt to deter “doctor shopping” by people trying to obtain multiple prescriptions for narcotic pain pills. The database allows pharmacists and doctors to track how many pain pills patients obtain.

At a state Board of Pharmacy meeting this week, Susan Langston, who manages the anti-diversion program of the Drug Enforcement Administration office that covers South Florida, said the database has been effective in shutting down pill mills and oxycodone abuse in South Florida. Problems remain elsewhere in the state, she added.

Many pharmacists dispense narcotic medications after verifying the patient’s identity and confirming the doctor wrote the prescription, but more thorough checks are needed, Langston said.

Michael Jackson, Executive Vice President of the Florida Pharmacy Association, told WUSF pharmacists strongly support the database, but they don’t want to be required to use it in every case. “It’s best to let pharmacists use their professional judgment,” he said.

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