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Statewide database for prescription drug purchasing

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Amarillo, TX - Prescription drug abuse has soared in Texas and nationwide in the last decade, and new technology seeks to curb both addiction and trafficking.

"Prescription Access in Texas," or "PAT," is a statewide database from the Department of Public Safety that allows law enforcement and medical professionals to track prescription drug purchases anywhere in Texas.

The intended purpose of the database is to reduce both abuse and trafficking by helping to identify addicts, dealers, and profiteering doctors.

One theory is patterns of overbuying could be indicative of "doctor shopping."

"Doctor shopping" is the term used to describe the practice of going to multiple doctors and pharmacies to repeatedly fill the same prescription.

Texas lawmakers made the practice a felony last year to discourage abuse and trafficking.

Some doctor shoppers are selling their surplus of pills, while others are simply feeding their own addictions.

Prescription drug addiction has been rapidly increasing both in Texas and across the nation since the late nineties, with hydrocodone, also known as Vicodin, being by far the most abused prescription drug.

The Prescription Access in Texas system is intended to help doctors recognize addicts and police recognize dealers.

Although a drug-monitoring system has existed in Texas since 1982, this is the first time it has been so widely available.

Some civil libertarians have criticized the program as a breach of personal privacy, but the DPS says the data is secure and only used by law enforcement for drug investigations.

In the next legislative session, the state legislature may consider a proposal to mandate that doctors check the database before issuing a prescription.

You'll find in-depth statistics from the Texas Department of State Health Services on the link attached to this story.

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