Long-awaited prescription drug database up and runningby Dara Kam | October 17th, 2011
After nearly a decade, Florida doctors can now check out their patients’ prescription drug history in an online database aimed at curbing “doctor-shopping” and other illicit pain pill abuses.
The Elecronic – Florida Online Reporting of Conrolled Substances Evaluation (E-FORCSE) went live today after narrowly escaping being killed earlier this year by Gov. Rick Scott and other high-ranking GOP lawmakers.
Last month, all of the state’s 4,000 pharmacists and dispensing pracitioners began entering information about controlled substances, including highly addictive pain medication such as oxycontin and hydrocodone, into the database, as required by a law passed by lawmakers this spring.
After today, doctors can tap into the database to view their patients’ prescription drug history and view when and where they filled their prescription and who wrote it. Law enforcement officials will be able to access the database to investigate drug-related crimes.
Supporters of the system, including Attorney General Pam Bondi and state Surgeon General Frank Farmer, hope doctors use the database even though they aren’t required to. Bondi was instrumental in getting lawmakers to reach an agreement over the database this spring.
The Florida Medical Association and the Florida Osteopathic Medical Association are asking their members to participate.
“The prescription database is perhaps the single most important patient safety program to launch in recent memory,” Sen. Mike Fasano, R-New Port Richey, said in a statement. Fasano has tried for nearly a decade to get the database up-and-running. Lawmakers were so skittish about the database they forbade the use of state money to create and operate it. The Prescription Drug Program Monitoring Foundation, the non-profit organization footing the bill for the system, and the state have received $800,000 in federal grants for the database.
“After many years and many obstacles to overcome, the database is going live at a time when it is needed most. Although we will never know the number of lives that will be saved, we will know that many lives will not be lost as long as the database is consulted by every doctor every time he or she considers writing a controlled substance prescription,” Fasano said.