Upgrade to State's Prescription Database Proposed

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California Attorney General Jerry Brown has announced a plan to bring the state's prescription drug database into the Internet age. KPCC's Brian Watt reports.

Brian Watt: California has maintained a database for prescription drugs since the 1940s. But a doctor must wait more than a week to obtain data on a patient who might urgently want a drug like the powerful painkiller Vicodin. The attorney general said drug dealers and abusers exploit this lag time and shop several doctors to fill the same prescription.

Attorney General Jerry Brown: And we want to be able to have a system that instantly, through a Web page, with security protections, allows the pharmacist and the doctor to know instantly the patient history.

Watt: Bob Pack of Danville has been working on such a system for three years. Five years ago, a car struck and killed his two children, as they played on a sidewalk. The woman driving was under the influence of Vicodin. Pack said she'd obtained prescriptions that amounted to more than 300 pills from six different doctors.

Bob Pack: This woman was the ultimate doctor shopper; she is the prime example of what we're trying to prevent.

Watt: Kaiser Permanente has helped develop the new online database, and the state hopes to launch it next year. It'll cost three and a half million dollars, in private money. Bob Pack is helping to raise that money.