Posted: Monday, Feb. 25, 2013 -- 10:59 p.m.
Wisconsin is preparing to launch a prescription drug database to better track narcotic addicts and dealers.
The state is one of the last in the country without a way for dispensers and doctors to coordinate prescriptions. Pharmacists are familiar with "doctor shopping," where patients with legitimate health issues get pain killer prescriptions from several doctors and fill them at different pharmacies.
Other suspects steal pads, forge prescriptions or try to call them in.
"A lot of times you'll find that people who are drug abusers use it for themselves but also sell it," said Dr. Janet Duemke at Mallatt's Pharmacy on Williamson St. "You're wondering about who the hands are that these drugs are getting into."
Duemke says the narcotics, including drugs like Oxycontin and Vicodin, can be deadly, especially in excessive doses. Wisconsin also has above-average prescription drug abuse compared to other states.
The solution is a new database set to launch as early as April. Pharmacies and other dispensaries will report weekly what prescriptions they fill, and doctors can check the same system to see if the patient is trying to abuse the system.
"Once that prescription is dispensed by a pharmacy it will be uploaded to the database," said Chad Zadrazil with the Department of Safety & Professional Services, who will administer the program. "Then the next time that patient tries to get a similar prescription filled, or the same prescription in the case of fraud, if the pharmacist runs a query that would come up."
Zadrazil says the technology developer is in the final stages of porting their $130,000-per-year system to comply with Wisconsin laws. Their same interface is already in place in 20 other states.
Zadrazil says the long-term goal is to integrate the database with other states to better spot drug abuse. Law enforcement groups will also have access to the system if granted a court order.
Although Wisconsin is one of the last handful of states launching a prescription drug database, Zadrazil says they benefit from mistakes made in other states. He says some areas only allow doctors or pharmacists to check the system, but they are often too busy. The Wisconsin implementation will allow their staff to help check the database for drug abusers.
Dispensers, like pharmacists and hospitals, are already collecting data for the system. They will enter the information in April with a full launch of the database planned in June.