WA Health Department to monitor prescriptions

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OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) -- The Washington state Health Department plans to step up monitoring of pharmacy prescriptions next year to prevent painkiller abuse and overdose deaths.

The department is holding a hearing Monday in Tumwater on the monitoring rules.

Spokesman Gordon MacCracken says drug stores will be asked to share their records to identify people who try to overfill prescriptions or go from store to store filling the same prescription. MacCracken says the information will be available to pharmacies and could be available to law enforcement.

The state planned the program in 2007 but ran out of money. A federal grant will start the monitoring in 2012.

Officials are concerned about prescription drug misuse because of an increase in accidental pain reliever overdose deaths. They rose from 24 in 1995 to 490 in 2009.