Law will create registry

ATLANTA --- People who get several doses of pain medicine for the same complaint would have a tougher time going undetected under legislation designed to create a statewide drug database.

Rep. Ron Stephens, R-Savannah, introduced the Georgia Prescription Monitoring Program Act to make it easier to spot cases where people have gotten several prescriptions for federally controlled drugs.

It's designed to catch situations in which someone goes to more than one doctor with the same complaint so each writes a prescription, and those in which a doctor overprescribes powerful painkillers.

Some of the people getting multiple prescriptions are abusing the drugs, but some are selling them, experts say.

Because 32 states -- many surrounding Georgia -- already operate prescription databases, Georgia is vulnerable to abuses, said Jim Bracewell, the executive vice president of the Georgia Pharmacy Association, which supports the bill.

"We know that people are crossing the lines from those states to have suspicious or perhaps illegal prescriptions filled in Georgia," he said.

Mr. Stephens, who owns a pharmacy, sees the bill from a humanitarian perspective: "It will save people's lives."

State inspectors already have the authority to review prescriptions manually, Mr. Stephens said, but the small staff of eight would benefit from the instant access an electronic database would provide.

Physicians also would be able to consult the records online to make sure a new patient hadn't already received a prescription.