TAMPA - Pharmacists across the state will join in the fight against illegal prescription drug abuse Thursday. They didn't really have a choice, because the requirement that they send patient information to a statewide database is mandatory.
Many hope it will allow Florida to shed it's reputation as the pill mill capital of the country.
The Prescription Store in downtown St. Petersburg is getting ready for the change, which they claim will cost them nothing and take no significant time to implement.
Like pharmacies all over the state, The Prescription Store will be required to send weekly reports to a state database on every sale of a controlled prescription drug including sleep and anxiety aids, steroids and painkillers like Oxycontin. The information will include the name of the patient, the drug, the dosage and the doctor.
Mike Kinter believes the database, designed to curb illegal doctor shopping and street sales of prescription drugs, is long overdue.
"Whether it's effective or not remains to be seen, but something has to be done," said Kinter.
Florida was one of only a few states without a database for doctors and law enforcement to track drug sales. So-called pill mills sprang up like mushrooms all around the bay area attracting addicts and dealers from around the country.
Attorney General Pam Bondi has long been a supporter of the database and said in a YouTube statement, "We are hoping to put an end to the seven deaths of Floridians per day who've been overdosing from prescription drug abuse."
Pharmacist, Mike Kinter says implementing the new requirement at his pharmacy was simple and free. He doesn't expect it will affect his customer service, though he can't speak to the privacy concerns of customers.
Jim Dell has no problem surrendering his personal information to fill a prescription. "I would trade that all for the security of not having the problem. To me it's a good move," said Dell.
But paralegal Donna Hand doesn't have confidence that the government database will be secure. "This is another invasion to where they're able to get our information," said Hand.
The database will be open to doctors so they can find out if patients are getting duplicate prescriptions from other providers. Police can use the database to investigate drug cases they've already opened, but can't go surfing the weekly reports to find new suspects.