Board of Medicine: Drug monitoring program working

Florida, once dubbed the “epicenter of prescription drug diversion,” has made numerous inroads since state lawmakers passed legislation requiring that a prescription drug monitoring program be put into place.

Prior to Chapter 893.055, which created new guidelines for operating pain management clinics and approved the creation of a database to collect controlled substance prescription records from those dispensing drugs, Florida had more than 900 unregulated pain management clinics.

According to the Florida Board of Medicine, since Florida’s prescription drug monitoring program E-FORCSE (the Electronic-Florida Online Reporting of Controlled Substances Evaluation) began operation in 2011, death rates from oxycodone have gone down by 41 percent.

A prescription drug monitoring program allows doctors and pharmacists to view a patient’s records of prescriptions for addictive painkillers and tranquilizers through a central database. Each state has its own program, and although they differ in particulars, the goal is the same: to reduce prescription drug abuse.

The law requires those who dispense controlled substances to report all transactions within seven days. It also allows all licensed healthcare practitioners to use the database when treating and prescribing drugs to their patients.

Physicians, pharmacies and pharmacists who do not credential patients by utilizing the prescription drug monitoring program may be subject to Board of Health and Drug Enforcement Administration sanctions.

The Board of Medicine reports that as of July 1, more than 112 million dispensing records have been collected and more than 25,000 practitioners have registered for the program of which 12.4 percent (8,259) of all licensed physicians are using E-FORCSE. Of this total, 5,773 healthcare practitioners queried the program with more 2.8 million queries. The registration records show that 32 percent of all users are MDs.

That doesn’t mean the battle is over. While most states have some kind of prescription drug monitoring program in place, Missouri does not. A recent story in the Columbia Daily Tribune notes that as a result people from all across the country are now taking their prescriptions to “The Show Me State.” That means pharmacists there have to spend a significant amount of time trying to make sure that the prescriptions are legitimate.

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The Health Law Offices of Anthony C. Vitale