A law passed in 2009 to reduce prescription drug fraud in Oklahoma took effect January 1, 2012. The law requires real-time reporting by pharmacies when certain prescriptions are filled and picked up. The intent of the prescription monitoring system is to prevent individuals from obtaining fraudulent prescriptions through the use of stolen prescription pads or through "doctor shopping." When a customer visits a pharmacy to have certain narcotic prescriptions filled, the pharmacist can check the electronic Oklahoma Prescription Monitoring Program to see if the prescription has already been filled elsewhere. When a physician does fill a prescription, he or she enters it into the system within five minutes of pick-up. The full-scale implementation of the real-time reporting system not only reduces someone's chances of having a fraudulent prescription filled, but it also increases the likelihood that one may be criminally charged for attempting to illegally procure a controlled substance. Anyone charged with prescription drug fraud should immediately contact an Oklahoma City drug lawyer for legal advice. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), prescription drug overdose deaths are at epidemic proportions, with 2 million people reporting first-time non-medical use of prescription drugs in 2010. For every prescription overdose death, reports the CDC, there are 825 non-medical users. Oklahoma is at particular risk. Between 1997 and 2006, overdose deaths in Oklahoma tripled. In 2008, the CDC ranked Oklahoma eighth in prescription overdose deaths, and it was in the top ten states with the highest opioid drug sales. Opioids include powerful, highly addictive painkillers such as codeine, hydrocodone, oxycodone, morphine, and methadone. The National Survey on Drug Use and Health reports that Oklahoma has the nation's highest rate of non-medical use for prescription painkillers. With electronic monitoring of prescriptions, pharmacies may be able to prevent filling falsified or fraudulent prescriptions. If prescribing doctors participate in prescription monitoring through the Oklahoma Prescription Monitoring Program, they may be able to further reduce rates of "doctor shopping" that enables prescription fraud. In addition to serious health risks of non-medical use of prescription drugs, anyone who illegally possesses or uses controlled dangerous substances is subject to criminal charges and serious legal consequences. Prescription drug fraud may be charged as a drug crime in Oklahoma, or it may be charged as a federal offense prosecuted by the U.S. District Attorney, the Department of Justice (DOJ), and the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA). If you have been charged with prescription fraud, it is important to contact an experienced Oklahoma City drug crime defense lawyer as soon as possible to protect your rights and to begin building your case.