Pubdate: Tue, 14 Jun 2005
Source: Montgomery Advertiser (AL)
Copyright: 2005 The Advertiser Co.
Author: John Davis, staff writer
Note: Letters from the newspaper's circulation area receive publishing
Bookmark: (Oxycontin/Oxycodone)


The state is working on a way to keep better track of prescription
drug abusers. A new database now in the works will give regulatory
boards and law enforcement officials the skinny on who's stockpiling
drugs and who's writing suspicious prescriptions.

Local pharmacist Bob Boatner said he sees a few sketchy customers each
year who he suspects are misusing prescription drugs.

"If the doctor's office is not open, I have no problem turning those
people away," said Boatner, who owns the Medicine Shoppe on Madison

Half a million dollars in federal grant money is paying for the
database that now is in the planning stages. It is scheduled to be up
and running Jan. 1. A board that includes legislators and industry
representatives is working out the details.

Once up and running, the database will track prescriptions filled by
pharmacies throughout the state. It will show who had the prescription
filled and what doctor wrote the prescription.

"Basically this is a drug-enforcement-driven nationwide effort," said
Sen. Larry Dixon, R-Montgomery. Dixon said there are many ways to
divert or misuse prescription drugs, such as getting multiple
prescriptions by "doctor shopping" or going to different doctors for
the same ailment.

Dixon said the new system will help stop the "illegal diversion of
legitimate drugs" in Alabama.

The Alabama Pharmacy Association supports the move, but doesn't want
to overly inconvenience its members when it comes to reporting
information to the database.

"We're definitely very sensitive to the pharmacists, and we want to
make it a seamless application," said Frances Kennamer, director of
the Department of Health's Office of Professional and Support Services.

State Pharmacy Director Charles C. Thomas stressed that the new
database will not compromise people's medical information.

"This information will not be available to anyone who it's not
available to now," he said.

After the initial grant, a $10 surcharge for controlled substance
registration certificates will go toward keeping it running. The
surcharge, which will be paid by people who write prescriptions, is
expected to bring in about $140,000 a year.

"I'm interested to see how they're going to implement (the database),"
Boatner said, noting that pharmacies use a wide range of operating
systems that will somehow have to send information to the statewide



The following boards will begin charging $10 for controlled substance
registration certificates in the state:

* Alabama State Board of Medical Examiners * Alabama Board of
Optometry * Alabama Board of Dental Examiners * Alabama State Board of
Veterinary Medical Examiners * Alabama State Board of Podiatry

The surcharge is expected to generate about $140,000 a year to run a
statewide prescription drug database that can be accessed by
regulatory boards and law enforcement.
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