UPDATE: House committee set to abolish pain clinic oversight, do away with drug databaseby Dara Kam | March 10th, 2011
CORRECTION: The House Majority Office data about the number of dispensing practitioners in Florida is incorrect. The actual number is 156, not 56, according to House Speaker Dean Cannon’s spokeswoman Katherine Betta. She also point out that although Florida’s dispensing practitioners comprise only 11% of those who hand out oxycodone nationally, but they dispense 85% of the oxycodone sold by practitioners in the U.S.
With House Speaker Dean Cannon‘s blessing, a House committee is preparing to abolish all oversight of the state’s pain management clinics and repeal a controversial prescription drug database law enforcement officials, including Attorney General Pam Bondi, believe is crucial in combating illicit narcotic trafficking.
The House Health and Human Services Committee Chairman is slated to vote on two bills (PCB HHSC 11-03, PCB HHSC 11-04) at an 8 a.m. meeting this morning that would repeal current laws regulating pain management clinics in an effort to crack down on pill mills and impose restrictions on the types of drugs doctors would be allowed to dispense.
One of the bills would bar Florida doctors registered as “dispensing practitioners” from handing out Schedule II, III, IV or V drugs, including highly addictive oxycodone and methodone.
But critics of the measure, pushed by committee chairman Robert Schenck, R-Spring Hill, say it will do little to keep the narcotics out of the hands of drug dealers because most of the prescription drugs are dispensed by pharmacies.
The House Majority Office’s own data showed that only 56 of the state’s 6,335 dispensing practitioners can dole out oxycodone.
The second measure would scrap the state’s yet-to-be-implemented Prescription Drug Monitoring Program. An administrative law judge just gave state officials the green light to move forward with the database by ending a bid dispute over the program created by lawmakers two years ago.
Two new twists in the drawn-out drug database saga: drug-maker Purdue Pharma offered Wednesday to provide more than $1 million over two years to operate the program that under state law can only be funded with private donations. Purdue manufactures OxyContin, one of the highly addictive drugs officials are trying to stamp out on the streets.
And also on Wednesday Gov. Rick Scott gave the first indication he may be easing up on his opposition to the program.
“I don’t want to be participating in things that are only funded for a very short time and then (have) the expectation that the state pick up the tab,” Scott said.
Scott’s staff said the governor may be open to the drug database if his concerns about a potential security breach and a permanent source of future funding are dealt with.