Wednesday, December 7, 2011
The prescription drug epidemic is a major health concern in every state in the Union. A number of states have began tracking prescription drugs using databases that help officials spot trends like doctor shopping. One problem that states are seeing is that many states are not sharing their database information with other states which makes it hard to crack down on “drug tourism”; some people will travel through many states to pick up drugs in states that have more pain clinics or in states where it is easier to obtain a large amount of a particular drug.
Florida’s Department of Health is recommending that the state release information from its new database that tracks prescription pain medicine with other states. The act would increase the effectiveness of these new databases, this national problem can only be combated if states work together to solve the problem.
“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.”
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. The perfect example of “drug tourism”, going to one state for a prescription only to fill it in another. 48 states have legislation to create prescription drug monitoring programs, and three dozen programs are now in operation, according to James Giglio, Executive Director of the Alliance of States with Prescription Monitoring Programs.
If states do not work together on this, it will render the databases relatively useless in the scheme of things, a unified nationwide database is what’s needed.