Florida is furthering its crusade to monitor and prevent prescription drug abuse, as well as the practice of doctor-shopping, in the state. Late last year, Senator Mike Fasano introduced a bill to adjust the current laws related to prescribing controlled substances, including new rules about accessing the state's prescription drug monitoring database, E-FORCSE. The legislation would also help drug prescribers and pharmacists ensure they are reviewing a patient's history with certain controlled substances before prescribing or dispensing them.
According to reports published by the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, about seven million people abuse prescription drugs on a regular basis. These addictions have encouraged the practice of doctor-shopping, which is when a patient visits several different physicians to receive multiple prescriptions for the same or similar drugs. As a result, many state governments have instituted ways to monitor the prescribing patterns of certain substances like narcotics such as the oxycontin and roxicodone. Currently 35 states have such a program, including Florida.
E-FORCSE Database Use
The Electronic Florida Online Reporting of Controlled Substances Evaluation (E-FORCSE) database is part of the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program. This effort went live last September, but has already been used to combat doctor-shopping and prescription fraud by medical personnel like doctors and pharmacists. Under the current law, only dispensing, not prescribing, medical professionals, must enter data when filling prescriptions for Schedule II, III, and IV controlled substances. Accessing the database for other purposes is voluntary.
New Legislation Targets Holes in Pill Mill Law
Although the drug monitoring program is barely underway, legislators have already found a loophole. Senator Mike Fasano's Senate Bill 904 seeks to adjust, or "tweak," the required use of the E-FORCSE database by medical professionals. The new law would require prescribers to review a patient's prescription history in E-FORCSE before writing scripts for specific controlled substances and note this on the prescription. Pharmacists filling the prescription would have to access the database if a required notation is missing on the script. Pharmacists must also check the E-FORCSE if they do not have a recorded history dispensing certain drugs to a patient. Additional provisions mandate pharmacists to report any prescriptions they think are fraudulent to local law enforcement officials, or suffer serious penalties.
In addition, the proposed legislation hopes to stem the growth of new pill mills in Florida, by making it more difficult for would be operators to obtain permission to open new pharmacies. In an effort to thwart prescription drug crimes in Orlando and the rest of the state, applicants seeking a pharmacy license would have their names run against the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' List of Excluded Individuals and Entities. Individuals on that list would automatically be denied a license.
Prevent Prescription Drug Abuse
The focus of this new legislation and related existing laws is to prevent the abuse of prescription drugs by shutting down pill mill operations and making it more difficult for drug traffickers to gather a large supply of controlled substances like narcotics. However, this must be balanced by allowing the patients who truly need the medications to be able to get them through their qualified medical personnel. While the use of the E-FORCSE database continues to rise, people trying to misuse prescription drugs should be wary of their actions.
Sometimes, the truth is not as obvious as it would appear. If you were charged with or arrested for a crime related to abusing or selling prescription drugs like Xanax, OxyContin, Percocet or Valium, contact a Florida criminal defense attorney right away for advice. Criminal defense lawyers experienced in defending drug crimes may be able to help you with evidence admissibility issues and to avoid a possible felony conviction.