System designed to reduce pain pill abuse
By Kyle LoJacono
The state Legislature took a step toward fixing the prescription drug abuse problem in Florida with a new database to identify problem users and doctors.
“The prescription database is perhaps the single most important patient safety program to launch in recent memory,” said state Sen. Fasano Mike Fasano, R-New Port Richey. “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.”
Fasano sponsored the state Senate bill that eventually led to the creation of the database while also making regulations stricter for those who can own and operate a pain management clinic.
The database, which went online on Oct. 17, is called Electronic Florida Online Reporting of Controlled Substances Evaluation (E-FORCSE). Now, whenever a narcotic-grade prescription, such as Oxycodone, is written for someone in Florida, the doctor must enter it into the system within seven days. The database records the dosage and when a prescription has been filled.
Physicians can search the database for a patient’s drug history to see if they have been doctor shopping, a practice where an abuser visits different clinics to get several prescriptions at the same time, according to Fasano.
The database will help law enforcement officers find potential drug dealers by identifying who is getting large amounts of the pills. They can also see which doctors are prescribing the medications to people who do not need the amount given.
“It’s really a great thing to have on our end,” said Pasco County Sheriff Chris Nocco. “We can find the people who are creating this problem and put a stop to it.”
The Pasco Sheriff’s Office received an additional $1.6 million from the county for the new fiscal year, which began Oct. 1, to hire 23 new employees. Nocco said much of the new force is going to fight prescription drug abuse.
Florida has become one of the epicenters of the prescription drug distribution in the country. About 80 percent of the Oxycodone — the most commonly prescripted pain pill — distributed in the United States comes from pharmacies in the state, according to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE).
Deaths attributed to such prescriptions in Florida reached an all-time high in 2010, with 2,710 fatalities reported, according to the FDLE. Oxycodone was the No. 1 killer, accounting for 1,516 deaths.
The Florida Medical Examiners Commission’s statistics show that of the state deaths attributed to prescription drug abuse last year, 42 percent were from people in Pasco, Hillsborough or Pinellas counties.
Leave a Reply
You must be logged in to post a comment.