Prescription monitoring program could see end shortly after beginning - WRBL

Prescription monitoring program could see end shortly after beginning

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The National Drug Take Back Initiative is this month and while Georgians are encouraged to drop off unwanted prescription drugs to keep them out of the wrong hands, a state agency that aims to do the same could be in jeopardy of ending before it even starts.

The Prescription Monitoring Program is slated to begin in mid-June, but by September 30th, the federally funded program is expected to run out of money.

The program would create a database that tracks prescriptions so doctors and pharmacists can check it and alert authorities if people are trying to "work the system".

Rick Allen, director of the program and The Georgia Drug and Narcotics Agency, said Georgia is one of only six states that doesn't have a tracking program.

Local law enforcement said that opens the door for thousands to go doctor shopping.

"They'll go to one physician who may prescribe them a little bit of what they want and then they'll go to another prescription," said Major Randy Robertson with the Muscogee County Sheriff's Office.

Every day, Pharmacist Terry Hurley said an average of five-to-six people come to Dinglewood Pharmacy and try to cash in on extra prescriptions. "They'll come in as far away as Tennessee to get a prescription filled for pain medication or something like that and you know good and well they didn't go to the doctor in Tennessee and then come down here to get the prescriptions filled."

Robertson said prescription drug abuse is a growing problem in the nation. In Georgia it either contributes to or causes at least 11 deaths every week.

"It's killing people left and right. And if it's not the drugs killing them, you're out driving with people who are drugged up and driving and they're killing people," Allen said.

The program is expected to run out of money, a mere three months after it starts. That's because Georgia lawmakers, didn't set aside any cash to fund it and the federal grant to help create it is almost out.

"If we get it up and running and it shuts down, then it's going to be like the black hole opens again and it'll all come back here again," said Allen.

Allen said the agency is trying to work with the government to extend the grant, but there is a 50 percent chance they won't get any more money. If that's the case, the program will have to wait a year until it becomes operational again.

People interested in dropping off unwanted prescriptions can do so at the Sheriff's Department on the fourth floor of the Government Center.

The following locations are also participating in the initiative:

North Columbus Pharmacy

River Road Pharmacy

J&J Pharmacy

Dinglewood Pharmacy

All Care Pharmacy

My Care Pharmacy

Sydney Cameron

Sydney joined the WRBL news team in December 2011 after working as a freelance reporter in Washington, D.C. More>>

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