A program designed to combat prescription drug abuse — which causes or contributes to the overdose deaths of 11 Georgians every week — could run out of money to operate only a few months after it gets under way in June.
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In Georgia, deaths from prescription drugs far exceed those from illegal drugs, according to law enforcement. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution analyzed 2011 legislation establishing a prescription monitoring database in February and found that the effort falls short of what the state needs to prevent drug-addicted patients from doctor-shopping. As a result, pill-seekers and drug pushers are flocking to Georgia because of its lax regulatory environment, and the state risks becoming the prescription drug dealer to the South. Coverage of the issue prompted state lawmakers to pass House Bill 78, also known as the Georgia Pain Management Clinic Act, in March. The legislation, which has been sent to the governor to sign, imposes strict regulations on unscrupulous pain clinics, known as “pill mills,” that dole out large quantities of dangerous narcotics and stimulants.