ATLANTA (Jan, 31, 2011) – A bill that aims to help doctors and pharmacists curtail the abuse of illegally prescribed drugs in Georgia and aid law enforcement by improving their technological capabilities was introduced at the State Capitol Monday. State Sen. Buddy Carter (R-Pooler) authored the “Patient Safety Act of 2011” which would create an electronic database of all controlled substance prescriptions dispensed in Georgia. The database would be accessible only to medication prescribers and dispensers for their own patients or law enforcement if they are investigating an open case, which would require a subpoena for access.
“Georgia is one of only ten states in the nation without a database proposed in the Patient Safety Act. With every state surrounding Georgia having a system to crack down on prescription drug abuse, many of these fly-by-night store front pain clinics and drug abusers are taking refuge in our state because we have no method to track this illegal activity,” said Carter, a 30-year pharmacist and pharmacy owner. “Pharmacies are filling prescriptions for this influx of abusers who in turn are draining the supply for regular patients who have legitimate medical problems – in some cases terminal illnesses. Clearly our state has a growing epidemic and we need to address it now by finally providing physicians, pharmacists, and law enforcement the right tools to crack down on illegal pill mills and drug abuse.”
Carter’s Act would require the Georgia State Board of Pharmacy, in conjunction with the Georgia Composite Medical Board, to establish the database. The Act gives the state Pharmacy Board rulemaking authority to implement the requirements set forth in the legislation but does not give them any power to interfere in the prescribing or dispensing of medication in the state.
The state Pharmacy Board has the ability to access all prescription information under the current law which dates back over 100 years in this case. Carter’s bill does not expand their reach, only enhances their lawful ability to retrieve information with modern technology. He mentioned that what normally take agents weeks to investigate could now take seconds with the electronic database in place.
As far as cost, the Act states there would be no cost to physicians and pharmacists for providing or accessing patient information. The Act says that the state Pharmacy Board would be eligible for federal grants to pay for the legislation, with no state dollars needed to fund the program.
Carter noted that one of his top priorities when writing this bill was to ensure the Act stringently follows patient privacy laws stated in the federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). His language provides severe penalties for those who breach confidentiality including prison and heavy fines.
The Patient Safety Act now heads to a Senate committee for consideration before a full vote in the Senate.
Sen. Buddy Carter serves as Chairman of the Senate State Institutions & Property Committee. He represents the 1st Senate District. He represents Bryan County and portions of Chatham and Liberty counties. He may be reached at 404.656.5109 or via e-mail at email@example.com.
For Immediate Release:
January 31, 2011
For Information Contact:
Matt Colvin, Broadcast Director