Tamper-proof prescription pads outsmart pain pill addicts, some say
une 8, 2012|By Alexia Campbell, Sun Sentinel
The tamper-proof prescription pads have high-tech heat sensors and light-activated watermarks — and they cost about $1 per sheet. Almost a year has passed since Florida began requiring doctors to use these special prescription pads in July 2011 as a weapon against prescription drug abuse. And although state health officials aren't tracking its impact, local pharmacists say they have seen a sharp drop in the number of people trying to alter or fake prescriptions for addictive pain pills.
"It's made a complete turnaround," said David Mackarey, a Boca Raton pharmacist and president of thePalm Beach County Pharmacy Association. "Now it's rare." A few years back, employees at his Boca Raton pharmacy flagged about two altered or forged prescriptions a week for oxycodone and other narcotics, Mackarey said. "Doctors used to get their [prescription blanks] made anywhere," Mackarey said. "You can't go to Kinko's anymore." The background color on the new pads must be blue or green and are hard to reproduce. They are printed on artificial watermarked paper, making it difficult to erase or alter ink. The words "void" or "illegal" must appear when the paper is photocopied. Doctors in Florida can only purchase these pads from a list of vendors approved by the state Department of Health. The tamper-proof prescription pad rules for controlled substances are one small part of the "pill mill law" passed in Florida last June. The bill imposed new penalties for over-prescribing narcotics and banned most doctors from dispensing them. State officials credit the new laws and law enforcement crackdowns on rogue pill mills for the 20 percent drop in sales of oxycodone last year. Palm Beach County doctors said it's impossible to know if the pads helped the situation. Barring doctors from dispensing narcotics and tracking their prescriptions likely made the largest dent, said Sanford Silverman, who runs a pain management clinic in Pompano Beach and is president of the Florida Society of Interventional Pain Physicians. "The tamper-proof pads were just one more thing on the long list of changes for us," he said. apcampbell@SunSentinel.com, 561-243-6609 or Twitter @AlexiaCampbell.