Crime & Justice

State officials move prescription drug database to the Web

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A new Web-based tracking system gives California doctors, pharmacists, and police immediate access to a patient’s prescription drug history. KPCC’s Brian Watt says it launched Tuesday.

Brian Watt: For decades, California has monitored drug prescriptions using a paper system. But in the week it takes that system to turn up any patient data, a drug abuser or seller can get prescriptions from several doctors for a controlled substance like Vicodin.

The new system combats that. It allows doctors to call up a patient’s profile on the spot. Special Agent Sara Marie Simpson of the California Department of Justice says the system also targets people who aren’t who they say they are.

Sara Marie Simpson: In the enhancements in the new system, we have included pseudonyms and aliases so that those people that are trying to avoid detection by law enforcement can be tracked also.

Watt: That goes for doctors who over-prescribe drugs, too. State Attorney General Jerry Brown called for moving the database online last year. He says the recent deaths of Michael Jackson and Anna Nicole Smith prove how dangerous prescription drugs can be.