|Wakulla Times Article--June 2010--Prescription Drug Monitoring|
The constant war being waged by law enforcement against drug abuse has taken a different twist in recent years. It is no longer just street drugs that pose a threat to the citizens of Wakulla County and the United States as a whole. Prescription drug fraud or “doctor shopping” has increased by an alarming rate.
During the past year Florida became the 39th state to adopt prescription drug monitoring laws when Gov. Charlie Crist signed a bill into law in June 2009 authorizing the program meant to help combat prescription drug abuse in the state.
The law calls for the creation of a database where pharmacists enter the names of all patients filling prescriptions for controlled substances. Physicians can use the database to help identify so-called doctor shoppers who go from practice to practice to obtain multiple prescriptions in order to sell or abuse the drugs.
There was some concern that a recent incident in Virginia might halt efforts for a monitoring program in other states. A hacker or group of hackers vandalized Virginia's monitoring program web site and posted a note there claiming to have the records of more than eight million patients. The incident is under investigation.
Prescription drug fraud is defined as the wrongful gain of prescription drugs for profit or personal use without a validated physician’s prescription.
There are several ways that prescription drug fraud occurs. Some individuals obtain a practicing physician’s valid prescription pad and write fictitious prescriptions. They have been known to change a doctor’s prescription by increasing the amount of drug to be administered. They have falsified prescriptions by using a computer to create a fictitious doctor’s name or forging a previous prescription from a valid physician. Patients have also been known to phone in their own prescriptions and use their own number as the doctor’s confirmation line.
Prescription drug fraud is not limited to Florida as it has occurred throughout the United States and has involved some public figures.
But the news is getting better. The State of Florida recently received Harold Rogers Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PDMP) funding through the Department of Health. Harold Rogers funding will be $400,000 with another $20,000 coming from the National Association of State Controlled Substances Authorities (NASCSA) and $150,000 from the Florida PDMP Foundation.
The funding will support the procurement of the PDMP database and start-up costs. The Department of Health will submit another $400,000 Harold Rogers grant and another NASCSA grant for Fiscal Year 2010.
The state has also created a new web site focused on the PDMP and the issue of illegal diversion of prescription drugs. It provides a wealth of information including a link to the Florida PDMP Foundation. The site is http://flgov.com/drugcontrol/pdmp/index.html.