Officials with the Georgia Drugs and Narcotics Agency say a new database is expected to help doctors and law enforcement keep tabs on prescription drug abuse. Agency director Rick Allen said the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program has been available to pharmacists and physicians for less than a month, but already, 2,000 medical professionals have submitted prescriptions.
Georgia officials are working on a prescription drug database they expect will help with what the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention calls an epidemic of overdose deaths. By next January, state law requires the new database to be online so doctors and pharmacists can track patients' prescriptions and spot potential abuse.
Georgia has been awarded a $400,000 grant to implement a prescription drug monitoring program. Thirty-seven states have prescription drug monitoring systems. Georgia has passed legislation to establish the program, but has not designated funding for it.
An analysis of autopsy data by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation showed a 10 percent increase in the number of deaths where a prescription-drug overdose was the cause. More than 700 people died from overdoses in 2010, and three-quarters of those were the result of prescription drugs, mostly narcotic pain relievers.
State lawmakers will jump into spring break a day earlier than originally planned, with no General Assembly session Friday. That move is to give legislators more time to iron-out sticking points in a proposed tax reform plan.