AUSTIN -- A flood of illegal doctor-shopping cases poured into a Travis County district court Thursday; doctors say this proves prescription drug abuse remains a growing problem in Central Texas.
Hundreds of people die from prescription drug overdoses every year.
On any given day, doctors at University Medical Center Brackenridge see a number of patients struggling with drug abuse.
"We do see that sometimes where folks come in two, three in the morning, taking a little of this, little of that, shot of this, top it off with something else. They come in here unconscious," said Dr. Chris Ziebell, M.D.
The number of people who end up in the morgue, dying from pill overdoses, remains consistent.
"People are dying every day from overdosing on their medications," said Travis County Medical Examiner Dr. Satish Chundru, M.D.
Hydrocodone is the leading cause of overdose deaths in Travis County, followed by Xanax, Valium, and Soma. More people die from pain pills and muscle relaxers, than from illegal drugs.
Police are using a strong weapon to combat pill abuse -- a prescription tracking system reported to the Department of Public Safety. In one case, an Austin woman was caught with 31 different prescriptions, prescribed by different doctors, and filled by different pharmacies.
"We had our share of prescriptions that look fishy, and we'll call. We've had a couple where we've contacted authorities," said pharmacist Steve Helm.
Pharmacists say when someone asks for pills specifically by name, that's a red flag.
"It seems to be people know by color or shape which ones are valuable," said Helm.
With an influx of arrests and overdose deaths, many wonder if the tracking system is working.
A database in real-time would help, pharmacists say. Right now there's about a five-day lag for updating. Until then, it's up to patients, doctors, and pharmacists to do the right thing.
Police say it's not just patients who are investigated for fraud. Sometimes doctors and clinics are caught writing multiple prescriptions to make money off of patients.
The tracking system is designed to combat this problem by tracking doctors who are writing an excessive number of prescriptions.