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Senate passes pill mill crackdown, sends to House

Friday, May 6th, 2011 by Dara Kam

The Senate unanimously approved a compromise aimed at stripping Florida of its dubious distinction as the “pill mill capital” of the nation as Attorney General Pam Bondi looked on from the dais and two of Gov. Rick Scott’s top aides watched from the public gallery.

The package, a deal reached in the waning hours of the legislative session wrapping up tonight, bans doctors from dispensing highly addictive narcotics and heightens penalties against rogue pain clinics.

“Florida will no longer be known as the pill mill capital of the world,” said the bill sponsor Sen. Mike Fasano, R-New Port Richey. “It will come to an end in the state of Florida.”

Fasano credited Bondi, Senate President Mike Haridopolos, R-Merritt Island, and his wife Stephanie, a doctor seated beside Bondi as the vote was taken, for insisting on keeping the state’s prescription drug database over the objections of House Speaker Dean Cannon and Scott.

The measure also requires prescriptions for controlled substances to be written on Department of Health-approved prescription pads or electronically, onsite inspections of pharmacies and a mandatory buy-back period for doctors no longer able to dispense the drugs to get rid of them.

The measure goes back to the House for final approval before it heads to the governor, whose aides said he supports it.

Pill mill bill on life support?

Thursday, May 5th, 2011 by Dara Kam

GOP legislative leaders are in a standoff on a pill mill crackdown with less than 36 hours left until the session is expected to end.

Sen. Mike Fasano, the Senate’s pill mill bill sponsor, said he could not get House counterpart Robert Schenck, R-Spring Hill, to agree to a compromise proposal incorporating much of Schenck’s plan, including a ban on doctors dispensing narcotics and imposing new permitting restrictions on pharmacies.

Fasano also agreed to ban pharmaceutical companies from contributing to the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program, something Gov. Rick Scott has insisted on. Purdue Pharma, the maker of OxyContin, has offered $1 million to the foundation responsible for paying for the database.

But Schenck sent back a dozen components he wanted in the bill, including a cap on the amount of doses of highly addictive medications that pharmacies can dole out, Fasano said.

Fasano won’t agree to the dosage caps because, he said, they are few below what hospices and pharmacies catering to cancer hospitals need to treat patients in chronic pain.

Instead, Fasano is returning to his original plan to strip the House bill, approved 116-1 last month, and put on Attorney General Pam Bondi’s language tightening penalties on rogue doctors and clinics and reducing the number of days dispensers have to report information to the prescription drug database from 14 to 7 days.

But Scott and House leaders, including Speaker Dean Cannon, have insisted on a comprehensive plan that would include restrictions on wholesalers, pharmacies and doctors to curb the illicit prescription drug market in Florida that some say has been responsible for a national prescription drug addiction crisis.

“We’ve made an offer to them but they’re thus far reluctant to accept it. So my goal is at a minimum to get the language that would enhance the penalties, go after unscrupulous doctors, unscrupulous pill mill owners, all of the AG language along with reducing the requirement of reporting to the PDMP form 14 days to 7 days,” Fasano, R-New Port Richey, said. “Right now that’s what I’d like to do but nothing’s definite.”

Read more of the differences between Schenck and Fasano after the jump.
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Scott, Bondi tout Florida progress on pill mills on FoxNews

Saturday, April 30th, 2011 by Dara Kam

Gov. Rick Scott, in Washington for the White House Correspondents Dinner, and Attorney General Pam Bondi appeared on FoxNews shortly after noon today to tell the nation what Florida’s doing to crack down on pill mills.

Florida’s proliferation of pill mills has become national news as attorneys general and governors around the nation blame the Sunshine State for rising prescription drug addiction problems.

Scott blamed his fellow Republican predecessors for the drug woes.

“We haven’t had enough focus,” he said.

Scott also touted the House’s pill mill plan, much broader than the Senate proposal, that would limit distribution of highly addictive narcotics and bar doctors from dispensing most powerful pain medications.

“We’re going to start from the manufacturer, to the distributor, to the doctor, to the user. We’re going to stop this,” Scott said. “We’ve got a comprehensive plan to deal with all these things. We’re going to track all of it and we’re going to stop it.”

Bondi, who before her election as AG was a frequent contributor on Fox, bragged about the state’s prescription drug database while emphasizing its privacy component, a concern of Scott who early on wanted to scrap the program. Bondi pushed both Scott and House Speaker Dean Cannon to allow the Prescription Monitoring Program to get up and running to “prevent people from going to doctor shopping,” as she told Fox today.

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House big-box pill mill bill a no-go in the Senate

Wednesday, March 30th, 2011 by Dara Kam

The House’s latest proposal that would give retailers like Walgreens and CVS exclusive rights to dispense highly addictive pain medications is a no-go in the Senate, Senate President Mike Haridopolos said Wednesday afternoon.

The House Judiciary Committee approved the measure (HB 7095) this morning by a 12-6 vote, deepening the divide between the two chambers’ leaders over how best to crack down on pill mills.

Haridopolos insists on getting the state’s prescription drug database up and running despite his House counterpart Speaker Dean Cannon’s push to have it repealed.

The House’s latest plan to limit distribution of the narcotics by prohibiting doctors from being able to dispense them likely won’t go anywhere in the Senate, said Haridopolos, whose wife is a doctor.

“I don’t have a lot of hope for that one. We’re not even going in that direction,” Haridopolos, R-Merritt Island, said this afternoon at his weekly briefing with reporters.

Scott: ‘I don’t believe we should be doing’ drug database

Monday, February 14th, 2011 by Dara Kam

Gov. Rick Scott said he scrapped Florida’s much-anticipated computer system aimed at curbing the sale of prescription drugs by pill mills because he doesn’t believe it’s something the state should do.

Scott said he’s backing instead Attorney General Pam Bondi’s announcement that she’s going to step up prosecutions of the pain clinics with a team led by former state Sen. Dave Aronberg, a Greenacres Democrat.

“What I’m focused on is the stuff Attorney General Bondi’s focused on -focus on the people that are doing the wrong things rather than just trying to create a database of everybody in the state,” Scott, a former health care executive, said this morning. “I’m focused on the things she’s working on.”

But Bondi, who ramped up her efforts after Scott axed his office of drug control and policy, said recently that the prescription drug database is one of the tolls that law enforcement officials – and doctors – need to stanch the flow of the highly addictive drugs from Florida, which she called the “epicenter” of the nation’s illicit drug activity.

Scott said the database hasn’t worked (it’s not up and running yet because of a bid dispute).

“And I don’t’ believe we ought to be doing it,” he said.

Scott’s decision to do away with the database, created by lawmakers two years ago, alarmed officials in Kentucky and other states who’ve seen an influx of prescription drugs from Florida. And it created shockwaves in the law enforcement community and among lawmakers who backed the program.

The database would crack down on “doctor-shopping” by allowing doctors to look up patients’ prescription records.

“Without this important program Florida will take a step back ten years or more into the past,” Sen. Mike Fasano, R-New Port Richey, said of Scott’s decision.

Pain clinics to sue over pill mill bill if it becomes law

Wednesday, May 5th, 2010 by Dara Kam

An association of the state’s pain clinics vowed to sue over the “pill mill” legislation not yet sent to Gov. Charlie Crist.

Lawmakers passed the measure to rein in the pain clinics proliferating throughout South Florida and spreading across the state.

The new legislation requires FBI background screenings for pain clinic owners and bans felons and doctors not in good standing from ownership. The Palm Beach Post reported that some clinic owners are felons convicted of drug smuggling and other drug-related crimes.

The measure discriminates against the pain clinics by barring patients without health insurance from purchasing their pain peds from the clinics, the Florida Society of Pain Management Providers said in a press release. The bill (SB 2272) requires that patients without insurance have their prescriptions filled at pharmacies where they could pay with cash, credit card or check. The bill prohibits pain clinics from accepting those types of payment.

The association supports the portion of the bill requiring that the clinics be registered and licensed.

But the insurance-only provision would adversely affect the state’s poorest patients because the drugs typically cost more at pharmacies, clinic owner Paul Sloan, head of the association, said in a press release.

The measure contradicts Florida’s Patient Bill of Rights law which directs providers to treat patients without regard to the form of payment, Sloan said.

The insurance-only requirement for pain management clinics “has no rational basis” and the association will immediately sue if the bill becomes law, the release said.

Senate signs off on pill mill crackdown

Monday, April 26th, 2010 by Dara Kam

The Florida Senate unanimously approved a measure aimed at getting rid of the pill mill plague spreading from South Florida to the West Coast.

Under the bill (SB 2272), doctors in good standing and others except felons could own the pain clinics, they would not be allowed to advertise and would have to register with the Department of Health and submit to inspections.

More than seven Floridians die every day from overdoses of prescription drugs, bill sponsor Sen. Mike Fasano said.

“This year we want to make sure those pain management clinics are registered and inspected so they stop the killing,” Fasano, R-New Port Richey, said.

The proposal is one of Palm Beach County’s priorities. The House has yet to vote on its version.

Libertarian candidate blasts county moratorium on pain clinics

Tuesday, December 8th, 2009 by George Bennett

Our Jennifer Sorentrue reports that Palm Beach County commissioners this morning approved a one-year moratorium on approving new pain-management clinics amid concerns that drugs are being dispensed with insufficient controls.

A recent Palm Beach Post investigation found that more than 30 such clinics have opened in the county since 2007. Among the people running pain businesses are convicted drug dealers, serial criminals and former addicts, according to a review of county, state and federal records.

Libertarian commission candidate Karl Dickey blasted this morning’s 6-0 vote, saying commissioners are “punishing the many for the actions of a few. Whereas we understand some pain-management clinics have abused the system, it is outrageous for the county government to ban the ability of legitimate clinics from opening.”

Dickey is the only announced challenger to Republican Commissioner Steven Abrams.

Read Dickey’s entire statement after the jump…..

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