Pharmacist Mack Scherler generally trusts customers who come to his downtown Oklahoma City shop to have a prescription filled, but sometimes they seem to be hiding something.
Picking up on nervousness — and possible prescription fraud — Scherler will look up those customers in the electronic Oklahoma Prescription Monitoring Program to see if they already had the prescription filled somewhere else.
“We see a lot of people who do a lot of drugs, and we see a lot of people who do too many drugs,” Scherler said.
“A lot of times they'll go from pharmacy to pharmacy.”
The Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs Control started the monitoring program in 2006 to reduce prescription fraud, substance abuse and “doctor shopping.”
As of Jan. 1, all dispensers are required to use the program to report dispensing of certain narcotics within five minutes of being delivered to the customer.
Scherler, 58, said the real-time reporting will help prevent people from getting drugs from multiple pharmacies. He was a victim of one of these scams once when a man brought in a prescription from a Tulsa doctor.
The prescription was filled, and Scherler said he later found out that the doctor had been retired for a few months.
He said the man stole the doctor's prescription pad and then hit every pharmacy in the area.
“It was an all-day event,” Scherler said.
Bureau Director Darrell Weaver said doctors have given positive reviews about the new requirement.
“This is in every pharmacy in the state of Oklahoma. It's been seamless,” Weaver said.
The next step is getting more doctors to routinely check the list before issuing a prescription, he said.
According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, Oklahoma has the highest rate of nonmedical use for painkillers.
Weaver said he thinks Oklahoma doctors prescribe a lot of pain medication because they don't want to see anyone hurting in the community.