AUSTIN (KXAN) - Abusing prescription drugs and doctor shopping could become more of a challenge in Texas.
Starting this month, the Texas Department of Public Safety is giving more than 100,000 physicians, pharmacists, law enforcement investigators and medical licensing agencies immediate and around the clock access to the state's prescription drug database.
"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."
Under the program, law enforcement officers and the medical agencies will be able to log onto a secure Internet site to check for a range of addictive prescriptions including painkillers, anxiety pills, methamphetamine and cough syrup with codeine.
Up until this point, the only way to get the information was to fax a written request to DPS and wait for a response to arrive several days later by mail.
It did not do much good for doctors who had concerns about a patient sitting in their office or emergency room.
Around 900 doctors and pharmacists participated in a pilot program over the last year to test the online system. The group is the first to start using the latest version that will be rolled out to everyone by the end of the month.
They will be added on in phases throughout the month of August.
The state has been tracking controlled substances for the last 30 years. Lawmakers approved the original monitoring program and then expanded the list of drugs several years ago.
"We're all very excited it's finally here," said Sherry Wright, who supervises the prescription monitoring program for DPS.
The new online system, that has been years in the making, will streamline the process for the state and requires less manpower.
After the Olympics on Thursday night, KXAN News will explain what doctors and the state has to say about the security of the new system, and how it could eventually help track doctor shopping across state lines.
Late Saturday night into early Sunday morning, a light band of freezing drizzle traversed the I-35 corridor eastward. With sub-freezing temperatures, even the light precipitation created major problems.
A 10-year-old was killed while standing outside a vehicle after the child's family was involved in a fender bender, DPS said.
Austin Police confirm they have located an 82-year-old women who went missing last night.
APD is responding to a 25 vehicle accident near the 5400 block of Ed Bluestein near Thurgood Ave.
A man is dead after being hit by several vehicles in the eastbound lane of Highway 71 Saturday night.
A representative at the Fayette County Sheriff's office said that Fayette County is effectively shut down due to icy conditions.