A statewide Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (aka E-FORCSE) will finally go live on Thursday. For supporters of the program, its implementation has been a long time coming, but is welcome in a state where prescription drug abuse has reached near-epidemic proportions.

Starting Thurs., Sept. 1, any health care practitioner who has dispensed a controlled substance (including OxyContin, Vicodin, etc.) will be required to report information to the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program database within seven days after dispensing. The use of Department of Health-approved counterfeit-resistant prescription pads will also be required starting Thursday.

On July 1, Surgeon General Dr. Frank Farmer issued a public health emergency declaration, a mostly symbolic act that was ordered as part of the database’s implementation. Florida has become notorious for its prescription-drug problem, and the statistics regarding drug abuse are astounding.

In 2010, 98 of the top 100 doctors dispensing Oxycodone nationally were in Florida. Also in 2010, 126 million Oxycodone pills were dispensed through the top 100 dispensing pharmacies in Florida. (In fact, more Oxycodone is dispensed in Florida than in the other 49 states combined.)

“While the statewide public health declaration may no longer be in effect, the efforts of the Florida Department of Health, law enforcement partners and other state agencies remain strong,” Gov. Rick Scott said in a Monday press release. “We have made great strides and will continue to, in our fight against prescription drug abuse, and I applaud the professional work of both the Department of Health and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.”

Though he now applauds the database, Scott initially opposed its implementation, arguing that it was a privacy liability and would prove too costly.

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