AUGUSTA, Ga. (AP) — The director of the Georgia Drugs and Narcotics Agency says a new database is expected to help doctors and law enforcement keep tabs on prescription drug abuse.
The Prescription Drug Monitoring Program has been available to pharmacists and physicians for less than a month, and in that time more than 2,000 health professionals have signed up to be part of the program and submitted prescription information, Georgia Drug and Narcotics Agency director Rick Allen told the Augusta Chronicle . Similar systems have already been up and running in most other states.
"We were the next-to-last state to get it, but we've been trying to get it through the Legislature for 10 years," Allen said.
Part of the program's goal is to track whether patients are getting prescriptions from multiple doctors and filling them at several pharmacies.
"We as practitioners are very, very happy that it is finally here, just being implemented," Dr. Richard Epter, medical director for the Augusta Pain Center, told the newspaper. "I believe it will make a major impact, decreasing the number of deaths, decreasing obviously a number of other problems that patients have."
Some pharmacists who have enrolled in the program have already found instances of potential drug abuse by checking the system, Allen said.
"We've got people that have trunkloads of medical records, including X-rays," Allen said. "They know what they're doing."
Because Georgia had no monitoring system in place until recently, Allen said drug abusers from other states would flock to Georgia to try stocking up on pills.
Allen said he thinks the state's monitoring program will significantly decrease the number of drug abusers visiting Georgia for relatively easy access to prescription medications.