Responding to a letter from state Sen. Mike Fasano, R-New Port Richey, imploring Florida medical associations to encourage doctors to use the state’s new prescription drug monitoring database, Florida Osteopathic Medical Association Executive Director Stephen Winn says that the Association “agrees that we should encourage all physicians to check the database before prescribing.”

According to Winn’s letter, the Association will “continue to encourage all physicians to check the database prior to writing a prescription.”

As part of the state’s plan to curb the illicit distribution of prescription drugs, E-FORCSE allows state health care professionals to query the database for any indication that a patient is engaging in the practice of “doctor shopping” in order to accumulate prescription drugs. There is no requirement that doctors must query the database prior to writing a prescription.

“Sen. Fasano is extremely pleased at the proactive efforts made by the FOMA to educate the physicians who belong to the association,” says his chief legislative aide, Greg Giordano. Fasano says he hopes to work with the Association in the coming weeks in order to “help spread the word about the need to utilize the database.”

Though the drug monitoring database is meant as a way to thwart so-called “pill-mills” and doctor shoppers, some (including Fasano) are worried that pill mill operators might find a way around it. A recent surge in independent pharmacy applications could be indicative of just that.

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration received 217 application for new pharmacies (not including chain pharmacies) from Jan. 1 to June 30, a big jump from 159 applications during the same time last year and a sign that pill mill operators who are no longer able to dispense could now be trying to apply as “independent pharmacies.” Fasano has pledged to file legislation, if needed, to correct any problems in Florida statute that may help address non-legitimate pharmacy applications.

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