A national study released Thursday said states with
The new report from Brandeis University in Massachusetts found that while most states now have such programs, known as PDMPs, many do not use the data they collect.
"It's time to start analyzing the data and using it proactively to assist all parties," said John L. Eadie, director of the PDMP Center of Excellence at the Heller School for Social Policy and Management at Brandeis University.
Supporters of Florida's PDMP, which tracks prescriptions for painkillers and other controlled substances, say the program helps curb
More than 50 million records have been loaded into the database since the PDMP launched Sept. 1, 2011, according to the Florida Department of Health.
Physicians, pharmacists and law enforcement officers can access the database, though detectives must show their inquiry is part of an active investigation.
Between Nov. 14, 2011 and Aug. 31, the Department of Health received 17,200 requests for information in the prescription drug database from law enforcement.
Eadie and his colleagues found one of the effective proactive practices associated with PDMPs is using the data to alert authorities when there are signs of drug misuse or illegal prescribing.
Florida's PDMP does not currently alert authorities of red flags — such as patients who obtain controlled substance prescriptions from multiple doctors and pharmacies.
But the PDMP is currently being enhanced, and once it is, officials will be able to alert physicians, pharmacists and law-enforcement of suspected drug abuse, said Department of Health spokeswoman Ashley Carr.
None of Florida's PDMP data is currently analyzed because of limited resources, Carr said.
But the state received a grant that will help improve the program, she said. One of those improvements will enhance the PDMP's ability to analyze and use data to identify drug-abuse trends and sources of illegal drug use.
Florida Department of Law Enforcement Special Agent Danny Banks, whose agents investigate prescription drug traffickers and rogue doctors in Central Florida, said improving the PDMP and alerting investigators of suspicious activity is a great idea.
"Any tool that helps us prioritize going after the true, dirty doctors, we absolutely support," he said.