Florida’s drug database goes live

Oct 16, 2011

The following article was published in The Fort Myers News-Press on October 16, 2011:

State’s Drug Databaes Goes Live


After years of debate about privacy issues and deadly drug use, Florida doctors and pharmacists can start tapping into a state database today to check out patients’ prescription histories.

The database aims to curb prescription-drug abuse and “doctor shopping” – addicts who go from doctor to doctor to try to score prescriptions for powerful painkillers such as OxyContin.

Sen. Mike Fasano, a New Port Richey Republican who was a key player in getting the database approved, said he views it as the most important part of the state’s effort to fight prescription drug abuse. He said it will save lives.

“It’s a long time coming,” Fasano said Friday. “It’s a database that was needed many years ago.”

Doctors and pharmacists are not required to get information from the database, but Fasano said he will propose legislation next year to make it mandatory.

Two of the state’s more influential physicians groups, the Florida Medical Association and the Florida Osteopathic Medical Association, have encouraged their members to take part.

In a recent message to his members, Florida Osteopathic Medical Association President Jeffrey Grove wrote that they would “be able to query the database for any indication a patient is engaging in the practice of doctor shopping for the expressed purpose of accumulating prescription drugs for illicit reasons.

“There is no requirement to query the database prior to writing a prescription, but the FOMA strongly encourages you to do so.”

Tad Fisher, executive vice president of the Florida Academy of Family Physicians, said the database could be valuable when doctors do not know patients, such as “walk-in” patients at physicians offices or urgent care centers.

“The conversation has always been that a database could be very helpful for patients that you don’t have any history on at all,” Fisher said.

Lawmakers approved creating the database in 2009, but it has long faced controversy because of concerns about patient privacy.

Gov. Rick Scott and House Republican leaders this year raised the possibility of scrapping the database, but that idea ultimately died, at least in part, because of opposition from Senate President Mike Haridopolos, R-Merritt Island.

Find this article here:  http://www.news-press.com/article/20111017/NEWS01/110170335/State-s-drug-database-goes-live