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State cracks down on prescription drug abuse

AP file

State health officials have approved a plan to crack down on drug addicts who go from doctor to doctor trying to get prescription medications.

Under the plan approved Wednesday by the Public Health Council, doctors and pharmacists will have access to an online database that details prescriptions patients have had filled for narcotics, including OxyContin and other powerful painkillers.

The expanded prescription monitoring program will start early next year. Officials say although it cost $1 million to set up, and will cost $400,000 per year to maintain, it will save much more than that by spotting abusers.

Alice Bonner, director of the state Bureau of Health Care Safety and Quality, tells The Boston Globe at least 9,000 people engage in so-called "doctor shopping" in Massachusetts every year.

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