Georgia's prescription drug monitoring program still in jeopardy - WRBL

Georgia's prescription drug monitoring program still in jeopardy

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Georgia's prescription drug database system Georgia's prescription drug database system

Georgia's prescription drug monitoring program started in May, but the system is still in jeopardy of shutting down just months after starting.

As one of the last state's to get a prescription monitoring database, Georgia is already seeing a decrease in doctor shoppers, people who go from doctor to doctor seeking the same narcotic prescription. Program director Rick Allen says the database will end Sept. 30, however, if the state doesn't get federal grant money to keep it going.

"We're confident it's going to be extended," says Allen, "but until I get the money in my hand I'm not 100% sure." He blames personnel changes at the Bureau of Labor Assistance for the delay.

Dinglewood Pharmacy owner Terry Hurley isn't happy about the prospect of the database shutting down because he's seen doctor shoppers looking to him for service. "We're getting a lot of runners, people who have been getting prescriptions in," he says, "I don't know where they've getting them, but they're showing up here now asking for things that we normally don't carry and wouldn't carry."

Hurley says knowing his clientele helps identify would-be doctor shoppers, but being wary of outsiders can be a problem. "We've gotten so frightened, or cautious, about what we're doing that I'm afraid there are some legitimate people who aren't getting the medications they need," he says.

Allen says overall, however, the system has helped identify the abusers. "These people were cut off from these pharmacies, then we found other pharmacies that found that the patients they were suspect of, that they thought were double doctoring and going to other pharmacies were not. They were only going to their pharmacy."

So far 2300 doctors and pharmacies have signed up for the database, and Allen hopes to expand the program in years to come.

Currently program participants report their prescription information to the state at least once every eight days.

Jessi Mitchell

Jessi joined the WRBL news team in October 2012 after working as a freelance production assistant for MTV Networks in Los Angeles.

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