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Narcotics database could run out of money next year

11:06 PM, Sep 29, 2012   |    comments
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TAMPA BAY, Florida -- One year after taking effect, a statewide prescription drug database could be in jeopardy.

The Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PDMP) aims to track down doctor shoppers and physicians who over-prescribe narcotics. But its funding, currently made up of grants and private donations, could run out in January.

Sen. Mike Fasano, R-New Port Richey, said allocating $500,000 a year in state funding would then be crucial to keep the database alive and help continue the fight against pill mills and prescription abuse.

"We have pharmacists who have to use it every day to make certain that people aren't doctor shopping," Sen. Fasano told 10 News. "We have doctors that are using it in their offices, although it's not required, to protect their patients and make sure that any new patients that come in didn't happen to see a doctor down the street last week."

PDMP is something lawmakers have worked on for years, but it only went live last September. Months before that, Governor Rick Scott called for a repeal of the database, saying it shouldn't be the state's responsibility to track an individual's prescriptions.

Prior to the program taking effect, narcotics detectives say they relied hugely on tips from the public to track down doctor shoppers. Now, the fact that pharmacists can access this database provides more information, though they can't go as far as fishing for information or looking up names randomly.

"When you have the program in place, it's also a deterrent," said Ryan Kornacki, a detective with the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office. "If somebody knows that Florida has a PDMP, they're a little bit more cautious because if they're going to doctor shop, they know there's a paper trail."

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