Experts worry for patient safety while waiting for creation of prescription drug database

By: Trishna Begam Email
By: Trishna Begam Email
The state received $400,000 in grants to implement the database, which would screen for controlled substances. (WRDW-TV / June 28, 2012)

The state received $400,000 in grants to implement the database, which would screen for controlled substances. (WRDW-TV / June 28, 2012)

News 12 This Morning / Thursday, June 28, 2012

AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Deaths linked to prescription drugs abuse continue to rise, according to the Georgia Bureau of Investigations, jumping 10 percent from 2009 to 2010.

A law passed last year for a prescription drug database in pharmacies has still not been implemented.

Pharmacist Stewart Falangin with the Hill Drug Company has filled prescriptions for more than 20 years. His main worry these days is keeping his customers safe.

"There is no way of tracking. People have figured out the system and how to get these drugs," said Flanagin, who owns the drug store.

In 2011, that changed. Georgia lawmakers finally passed legislation that would require pharmacies to put a database in place.

"Being able to access the database for that information, we ensure patients aren't going from pharmacy to pharmacy paying cash," said Robb Hutcherson, a pharmacy extern.

Thirteen months after it was signed into law, the database still doesn't exist. The Georgia Drugs and Narcotics agency tells News 12 after their manpower was slashed, the labor intensive project of creating software for an online database slowed down.

"Almost every pharmacy uses a completely different program, that is going to make it harder for that to work," Hutcherson said.

The agency is evaluating bids on who will create the software. The timeline will include evaluations and testing. Their hope is to have the program finally up in running by January of 2013.

"I think the issues come from some of the bigger pharmacies. They are doing hundreds and hundreds of prescriptions a day. High turnover of their patient population," Hutcherson said. "It would take a lot of the hassle out of trying to figure out what patients are doing."

For an independent pharmacies like Hill Drug Company, a database like this can be crucial from stopping customers who may also fill prescriptions at other big name drugs stores.

The state received $400,000 in grants to implement the program. The database would screen for controlled substances only.

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