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PDMP’

Long-awaited prescription drug database up and running

Monday, October 17th, 2011 by Dara Kam

After nearly a decade, Florida doctors can now check out their patients’ prescription drug history in an online database aimed at curbing “doctor-shopping” and other illicit pain pill abuses.

The Elecronic – Florida Online Reporting of Conrolled Substances Evaluation (E-FORCSE) went live today after narrowly escaping being killed earlier this year by Gov. Rick Scott and other high-ranking GOP lawmakers.

Last month, all of the state’s 4,000 pharmacists and dispensing pracitioners began entering information about controlled substances, including highly addictive pain medication such as oxycontin and hydrocodone, into the database, as required by a law passed by lawmakers this spring.

After today, doctors can tap into the database to view their patients’ prescription drug history and view when and where they filled their prescription and who wrote it. Law enforcement officials will be able to access the database to investigate drug-related crimes.

Supporters of the system, including Attorney General Pam Bondi and state Surgeon General Frank Farmer, hope doctors use the database even though they aren’t required to. Bondi was instrumental in getting lawmakers to reach an agreement over the database this spring.

The Florida Medical Association and the Florida Osteopathic Medical Association are asking their members to participate.

“The prescription database is perhaps the single most important patient safety program to launch in recent memory,” Sen. Mike Fasano, R-New Port Richey, said in a statement. Fasano has tried for nearly a decade to get the database up-and-running. Lawmakers were so skittish about the database they forbade the use of state money to create and operate it. The Prescription Drug Program Monitoring Foundation, the non-profit organization footing the bill for the system, and the state have received $800,000 in federal grants for the database.

“After many years and many obstacles to overcome, the database is going live at a time when it is needed most. Although we will never know the number of lives that will be saved, we will know that many lives will not be lost as long as the database is consulted by every doctor every time he or she considers writing a controlled substance prescription,” Fasano said.

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 pill mill bill gives big pharmacies a boost

Wednesday, March 30th, 2011 by Dara Kam

The House gave retail pharmacies a boost this morning in its approach to reining in pill mills by going after rogue distributors.

Rep. Robert Schenck, sponsor of the bill (HB 7095), offered an amendment that would limit dispensation of narcotics to pharmacies that are publicly traded, have more than $100 million of taxable assets in Florida or have been in operation continuously for at least a decade.

The measure would also require the use of tamper-proof prescription pads or electronic prescribing for all controlled substances.

Schenck’s amendment, approved by the House Judiciary Committee this morning, also goes a bit easier on dispensing docs than his previous proposal which would have banned them from dispensing virtually any medications. Under Schenck’s new plan, only the pharmacies could dole out Schedule II and III drugs. Schedule II drugs iclude highly addictive narcotics like oxycodone and hydrocodone, morphine, and codeine. Schedule 3 drugs include sedatives and steroid compounds. (more…)

Drug database repeal DOA in Senate

Wednesday, March 16th, 2011 by Dara Kam

Senate President Mike Haridopolos is refusing to back down from his insistence that the state’s prescription drug database get up and running despite opposition from Gov. Rick Scott and House Speaker Dean Cannon.

A House committee last week passed a bill repealing the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program lawmakers created two years ago but yet to be implemented. A separate bill would also scrap all of the oversight of the pill mills.

“How do I say this nicely. We have a law on the books. It’s a database. If we choose not to fund it with taxpayer dollars, whatever happens there, we have secured private sector dollars,” Haridopolos, R-Merritt Island, said when asked if he supports the House’s elimination of pill mill regulation. I understand how laws are passed and it has to pass both chambers. We are not going to adjust the database. We believe it’s a very good idea. I strongly believe that we have to get a handle on this…We have no interest whatsoever of scrapping that database.”

Haridopolos said he tapped his “good friend” Sen. Mike Fasano, an ardent supporter of the database who sponsored much of the legislation cracking down on pill mills, to negotiate with the House on the issue.

“We’re the pill mill capitol of the world probably. We need to stop it. We have a device that other states have used successfully…I’m very comfortable with where we’re at,” Haridopolos said.

House committee passes measure abolishing Rx drug database

Thursday, March 10th, 2011 by Dara Kam

The House Health and Human Services Committee passed a measure that would scrap the state’s yet-to-be-implemented prescription drug database.

The committee approved the bill (PCB HHSC 11-04) with a 12-5 vote after hearing testimony from supporters of the database law enforcement officials, including Attorney General Pam Bondi, believe is necessary to crack down on prescription drug abuse.

Port St. Lucie vice mayor Linda Bartz urged the committee to vote against the measure, tearfully sharing the story of her daughter’s struggle with narcotics. Bartz said she had her daughter arrested to save her life.

“I believed when I had her arrested as I believe today that she was facing imminent death from a drug overdose,” she said. She said her daughter was able to get the drugs by “doctor shopping,” which the database is designed to reduce.

“I’m one of the lucky ones. My daughter is not one of the seven yet,” Bartz said.

But committee chairman Robert Schenck, R-Spring Hill, said the database, not yet in operation, is not working and, like Gov. Rick Scott, believes it is an invasion of privacy.

“The database simply tracks the problem of most law abiding citizens and at the expense of sacrificing our privacy,” he said.

The database has House Speaker Dean Cannon, R-Winter Park, and Senate President Mike Haridopolos, R-Merritt Island, at odds. Cannon wants to scrap it while Haridopolos wants it up and running and is willing to pay to keep it going. Current law forbids any state money from being spent on creation or maintenance of the drug-tracking system.

House committee gives initial OK to pill mill bill

Thursday, March 10th, 2011 by Dara Kam

The House Health and Human Services Committee gave a preliminary nod to a measure backed by House Speaker Dean Cannon that would limit physicians’ ability to dispense drugs and scrap current laws regulating pain management clinics.

The measure (PCB HHSC 11-03) would also allow felons to own and operate “pill mills,” a prohibition lawmakers passed two years ago after it was reported that some of the clinics were owned by convicted drug dealers.

The committee is getting ready to pass a second measure (PCB HHSC 11-04) that would repeal the state’s yet-to-be implemented prescription drug database.

Senate President Mike Haridopolos, R-Merritt Island, has insisted he wants to get the database up and running and is willing to spend the $500,000 a year to operate it although lawmakers barred any state money to fund the program.

UPDATE: Judge dismisses drug database protest

Tuesday, March 8th, 2011 by Dara Kam

UPDATE: Department of Health spokeswoman Michelle Dahnke didn’t reveal much about how the agency will proceed with the database after the judge’s ruling.

“The Department will determine our next steps following a review of the ruling,” she wrote in an e-mail.

An administrative law judge today dismissed a bid protest that kept the state’s controversial drug database from being implemented but the program hailed by law enforcement officials remains in limbo.

In a 71-page order, DOAH Judge Robert Meale ruled that the Department of Health didn’t do anything wrong by awarding the bid to Health Information Designs. Competitor Optimum Technology challenged the bid, saying the department erred in calculating the companies’ proposals.

Under the Health Information Designs contract, the database will cost $887,059 to get up and running. Optimum’s bid – $565,044 – didn’t win because the company scored lower overall. The case is now closed.

The judge’s ruling paves the way for department officials to move forward with the database, but that’s unlikely to happen because Gov. Rick Scott wants lawmakers to repeal the law they passed two years ago creating it – even though they also prohibited the use of any state funds to underwrite it.

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Sorry, guv, Senate prez backs drug database, wants state to pay for it

Monday, February 14th, 2011 by Dara Kam

Gov. Rick Scott’s plan to do away with a prescription drug database approved by lawmakers two years ago is getting the cold shoulder from Senate President Mike Haridopolos.

Haridopolos said today he not only wants to keep the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program alive, he wants to fund it.

“I want to fund it. I do and I think it’s the right thing to do,” Haridopolos, R-Merritt Island, said, in contrast to Scott’s statement earlier today that he doesn’t believe in the system.

Haridopolos said that the state would only have to pay $500,000 a year to maintain the system, not yet up and running because of a bid dispute.

“I think it’s a good idea. And we need to look at other aggressive law enforcement tactics to take on this major problem in our state,” Haridopolos said.

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