Though originally projected to go live at the end of September, a statewide prescription drug monitoring program will now be implemented on Oct. 17, according to recent projections.

A database to track prescription drugs in Florida, now called E-FORCSE (Electronic-Florida Online Reporting Controlled Substance Evaluation), was a long time coming. Though the program (which was signed into law by former Gov. Charlie Crist) didn’t initially have the full support of the state Legislature or Gov. Rick Scott, Scott eventually came around to support the project.

The database hit other hurdles, as well: funding and privacy concerns among them. A federal grant program (NASPER) that would have given the database financial support was cut in April, and, as the bill is written, the database can only be funded by grants and private donations. An offer of $1 million from Purdue Pharma (makers of the pain pill OxyContin) was rejected by Scott. Concerns about privacy were also rampant, particularly after a similar database in Virginia was hacked, putting millions of patient records at risk.

The program was slated to go live on Oct. 1, but that date has now been pushed back, to allow the program administrator time to collect 45 days worth of data and provide training, before opening up E-FORCSE to health care practitioners. This six weeks’ worth of data will mean that the database may already begin to show trends and allow doctors time to get familiar with how the program operates.

So will the “go-live” date actually be Oct. 17?

“I suppose it depends on how we define ‘go-live’ now,” says Greg Giordano, chief legislative aide to state Sen. Mike Fasano, who was a major proponent of the program. “In the past, we used that term to represent the day that the database will be accessible to doctors. Sept. 1 is now the day that dispensers may begin sending prescribing information into the database. The day that doctors can begin accessing that data is now Oct. 17.”

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