Calif. Drug Database to Target Prescription Abuse

September 16, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
California is about to join 20 other states who have a database to monitor people abusing prescription drugs. The idea is to prevent people from going to different doctors to get their drugs.This was prompted by the drug related deaths of Michael Jackson and Anna Nicole Smith. But even if you're not a celebrity, investigators say you can always find doctors who will give you just about any prescription medicine you want.

"We certainly have a lot of drug abusers in California so we'll have a lot of subject matter," said California Attorney General Jerry Brown.

The state now has set up a high-tech monitoring system that will allow doctors and law enforcement to identify and stop prescription drug seekers from "doctor shopping" and abusing prescription drugs.

Each record will have a patients name, drug record, the pharmacy where they got the drugs and the doctor's name. It replaces the existing system by eliminating paperwork.

"Now you have to fax something into the department in Sacramento, it takes weeks to get something back. It's very cumbersome. This is just instant, and whatever data is in the system will be instantly available," said Brown.

Anna Nicole Smith died in 2007. Prosecutors said two doctors helped to get her a number of medications to her in the last years of her life.

Jackson died June 25th, the coroner said it was an overdose of the powerful prescription sedative Propofol. He was apparently using fake names over the years to get the drugs; and in the end, was getting prescriptions from his private physician Dr. Conrad Murray.

Officials said the new database will be able to track that as well.

Sara Marie Simpson with the Bureau of Narcotics Enforcement said, "These patient profiles can be run by the doctor's name, so if we know a specific doctor is over-prescribing or prescribing without pathology, then we can look at his patient record and see if those names are actually true and correct names or are they actually false people."

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