Q:

How do pharmacies track prescriptions?

A:

Pharmacies track prescriptions using a prescription drug monitoring program. The monitoring programs are specific to each individual state and enforced by local state regulatory and law enforcement agencies. The state agency charged with tracking the information releases it to authorized individuals for professional purposes.

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A prescription drug monitoring program is beneficial for preventing controlled substance abuse and ensuring that the substances are only used for legitimate medical treatments. It also helps to identify individuals who might be abusing controlled substances and establish treatment interventions based on drug abuse trends. It serves to educate professionals and patients regarding risks of substance abuse to prevent future addictions or illegal behaviors.

As of Oct. 16, 2011, 37 out of 50 states had prescription drug monitoring programs, and 11 other states had passed legislation to implement them. The National Alliance for Model State Drug Laws provides information regarding individual state laws. Access to this information is determined by each individual state. Since 2002, $5.6 million of federal funding has been made available to 47 states and one U.S. territory to implement the program. Regulation of a prescription drug monitoring program is handled by the state. The Drug Enforcement Administration is not involved in prescription drug monitoring.

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