A sophisticated tracking system that monitors when, where, how much and how often prescription drugs are dispensed was launched throughout Florida this week. Law enforcement agents plan to use the tracking system to help reduce the illegal distribution of painkillers, and identify addicts and drug dealers throughout the Sunshine State.
Greg Giordano, chief aide for state Sen. Mike Fasano, R-New Port Richey, said, “The prescription database is perhaps the single most important patient safety program to launch in recent memory. On average, the scourge of prescription drug abuse claims the lives of seven people per day. This long-awaited tool is intended to cut that number significantly.”
The tracking system, known as the Electronic Florida Online Reporting of Controlled Substances Evaluation, enables physicians to request patients’ prescription drug histories. Pharmacists and other health professionals who prescribe narcotic-grade medication such as oxycodone and hydrocodone have seven days after painkillers are dispensed to report the information to the tracking system database.
The tracking system has an online database that stores the names of patients and their dosages of narcotic-grade pills, where they were filled and who wrote the prescriptions. The tracking system can reveal if a patient is doctor-shopping, the act of visiting different physicians in a short period to obtain more prescriptions.
Tracking systems for prescription medications are being implemented in several states across the US. A tracking system for prescription medications debuted in 2009 in California and was recently upgraded. The deaths of celebrities such as Anna Nicole Smith and Brittaney Murphy highlighted the fact that the med tracking system in California needed to be upgraded. The upgrades include instant tracking of controlled substances and access to law enforcement officials.