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DPS launches online version of Texas prescription drug monitoring program

Thursday, August 2, 2012 - 4:20pm

At the urging of the 82nd Texas Legislature, the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) has developed a secure online prescription monitoring program, called Prescription Access in Texas (PAT), which provides controlled substance prescription dispensing history to authorized health care and law enforcement professionals. DPS officially launched PAT in June 2012, at which time the database became available to a select group of practitioners, pharmacists and law enforcement professionals. This week, DPS has extended program access to additional physicians and law enforcement, mid-level practitioners, medical board and nursing board investigators.

“Prescription drug abuse is a serious problem, and the new online prescription drug monitoring program will help the state of Texas combat this issue,” said DPS Director Steven McCraw. “It is essential that doctors and pharmacists have quick access to the information they need to identify potential prescription drug abusers and traffickers before they fraudulently receive the drugs. Law enforcement access to this information is also crucial to investigating those individuals or organizations engaged in the trafficking of prescription drugs. This new tool will allow a proactive approach to prevention, assist with criminal investigations, provide historical reporting and identify trends.”

DPS launched a pilot version of the PAT in August 2011, which has since proven successful. Each registered user must provide licensing information to ensure data is released only to authorized users. As required by statute, the PAT database includes Schedule II – Schedule V drugs for the last 12 months only, and pharmacists must report prescription data within seven days of the prescription being filled.

"I have supported the enhancement of the prescription drug monitoring program, including legislation I passed that changed Texas law to significantly expand the types of prescription drugs being monitored by DPS today," said State Senator Tommy Williams. "I am proud Texas has brought this critical database online so our healthcare professionals and investigators can quickly and easily identify potential prescription drug abuse, patients who are doctor shopping, forging prescriptions and physicians who are illicitly prescribing drugs."

In 1982 the Texas Legislature created the original prescription drug monitoring program, which is now called the Texas Prescription Program, as an efficient, cost effective tool for investigating and preventing drug diversion. Since then authorized users have had to access to this information through a manual paper process.

PAT, the new online version of the database, represents a substantial upgrade by allowing instant, 24/7 access to authorize users. In addition to this week’s expansion of access to PAT, additional users will continue to be phased in over the next two months. Pharmacists and pharmacy board investigators are on track to acquire access to the system in mid-August, and podiatrists, dentists, veterinarians; board investigators for each of those three professions; and out-of-state practitioners are scheduled to obtain access near the end of August.

Texas law restricts access to prescription data to practitioners and pharmacists who are inquiring about their patients, and to various regulatory and law enforcement personnel conducting investigations. Practitioners include physicians, dentists, veterinarians, podiatrists, advanced practice nurses or physicians assistants.

For additional information about the PAT program, visit: http://www.txdps.state.tx.us/RegulatoryServices/prescription_program/

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