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Gov. Scott, AG Bondi say pill mill crackdown working

Wednesday, March 14th, 2012 by Dara Kam

A year after creating a prescription drug “strike force,” Florida is moving from the “Oxy express” to a role model for the nation in cracking down on pill mills and illicit pain pill distribution, according to Gov. Rick Scott, Attorney General Pam Bondi and Florida Department of Law Enforcement Commissioner Gerald Bailey.

The state’s Drug Enforcement Strike Force Teams, initiated by Scott with $800,000 last March, have seized almost 500,000 pills, 59 vehicles, 391 weapons and $4.7 million, according to Scott’s office. And they’ve made more than 2,150 arrests, including 34 doctors.

The dent in the illicit prescription drug trade comes from a combination of Scott’s “strike force” and tough laws – including restrictions limiting rogue doctors’ dispensing of drugs and the amount of drugs per patient they can prescribe – pushed by Bondi. Scott, Bondi, Bailey and a host of law enforcement and health officials boasted of the success at a press conference this afternoon.

“We have a long way to go,” Bondi, who testified before Congress on the issue last week, said, adding that the efforts have made a “tremendous difference in the war on prescription drugs.”

Last year, 90 of the country’s top 100 Oxycodone-purchasing doctors and 53 of the top 100 purchasing pharmacies were located in Florida. The number of doctors dropped 85 percent to 13 and the number of pharmacies went down to 19. And the number of pain clinics in the state has gone down from 800 to 508, according to Scott’s office.

And an interim report shows a nearly 8 percent drop in the number of people who prescription drug-related deaths in Florida from January through the end of June last year compared to the same six-month period the previous year.

From January 1 through July 1 last year, 1,173 people died with at least on prescription drug in their blood. The previous year, the 1,268 people died, a 7.9 percent decrease. Scott’s “strike force” was only in effect for half of that period and many of the restrictions on prescribing had not yet gone into effect. And the state’s prescription drug database was not yet up and running – that didn’t go online until October.

“This is a good news day,” Scott said, saying the drug force has had a “dramatic impact” over the past year. “People know now we are clearly the model.”

The crackdown on drug pushers is turning around the state’s reputation as the drug capital of the country, Bailey said.

“In one year, we’ve gone from being known as the Oxy-express to being a role model for other states dealing with this problem,” he said. “While we have made tremendous strides, we’re just getting started. Prescription drug trafficking remains a significant concern for Florida law enforcement.”

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.

Bondi, Negron seek to tackle latest Rx abuse victims – newborns

Wednesday, October 5th, 2011 by Dara Kam

Newborns are the latest victims of the prescription drug epidemic plaguing Florida and the country, Attorney General Pam Bondi said today.

That’s why Bondi is asking lawmakers to help her create a task force to find out how rampant the problem is and come up with solutions before prescription drug-addicted babies become a crisis as difficult to address as pill mills.

“We do not want this to become the next crack baby epidemic…and that’s where we’re headed,” Bondi told reporters at a press conference flanked by supporters of the legislation, including Sen. Joe Negron, R-Stuart, the bill’s sponsor and chairman of the Senate Health and Human Services Budget Committee. Bondi was also joined by Stephanie Haridopolos, a family practice physician and the wife of Senate President Mike Haridopolos, R-Merritt Island.

Bondi said she and Stephanie Haridopolos recently visited the neo-natal intensive care unit at St. Joseph’s Women’s Hospital in Tampa. Kenneth Solomon, the unit’s director, said Wednesday that about 25 percent of the babies in his unit are there because they are withdrawing from drugs. The majority of the babies are addicted to oxycodone, Percocet or methodone, Solomon said. Twenty percent of the babies born addicted to drugs in his unit wind up in foster care, he said.

Usually, babies and mothers spend up to 72 hours in the hospital. But babies addicted to drugs can spend up to two months in the NICU at three times the cost, Solomon said. The babies suffer from extreme sensitivity to light and sound, fevers, incessant crying and respiratory problems, are often born prematurely and sometimes must be readdicted to the drug before the withdrawal procedure can begin, he said.

“Instead of getting milk, those babies are getting methodone,” Bondi said. “And it’s got to stop.”

As the Senate’s chief of state spending on health care, Negron said lawmakers need to step in immediately to assess the problem.


Rick Scott signs pill mill bill into law

Friday, June 3rd, 2011 by Dara Kam

Gov. Rick Scott has signed into law pill mill bill banning doctors from dispensing most narcotics, tracking wholesale distribution of most highly addictive pain medications and keeping intact the state’s prescription drug database.

Scott says the new law will be a model for the nation.

“I am proud to sign this bill which cracks down on the criminal abuse of prescription drugs,” Scott, on a three-city ceremonial bill signing tour today, said in a statement. “This legislation will save lives in our state and it marks the beginning of the end of Florida’s infamous role as the nation’s Pill Mill Capital.”

Lawmakers approved HB 7095 after a contentious struggle over the future of the state’s Prescription Drug Monitoring Program, a yet-to-be-implemented database aimed at cracking down on “doctor-shopping” and illicit prescription drug sales.

Attorney General Pam Bondi was instrumental in bringing House and Senate GOP leaders together on the final deal, passed in the final days of the legislative session that ended last month.

Bondi brings pill mill bill in for a landing

Friday, May 6th, 2011 by Dara Kam

As Gov. Rick Scott and Attorney General Pam Bondi looked on from the dais, the House unanimously approved a pill mill compromise, sending it to Scott for final approval.

Cannon, R-Winter Park, praised the final product, the culmination of late-night negotiations that went down to the wire and at times appeared to be doomed.

“Today we saw the best of the best of the best of Tallahassee,” Cannon, R-Winter Park, said.

Bondi said she spoke with Senate President Mike Haridopolos after midnight and was working the phones until 2:30 a.m. Friday morning to try to bring the deal in for a landing.

Bondi said Friday’s vote would send an immediate message to unscrupulous pill mill operators and doctors.

“I hope they start packing right now,” she said.

Twisting a purple rubber bracelet, Bondi said she could now stop wearing the memento she placed on her wrist on March 8. The bracelet was a gift from the mother of Brandi Meshad, an 18-year-old Sarasota woman who overdosed from prescription drugs. Meshad was the granddaughter of attorney and prominent developer John Meshad. Her body was discovered at his house.

Bondi said she promised Lisa Meshad she would wear the bracelet until the measure was signed into law.

“Real soon,” Bondi said.

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 back on track

Friday, May 6th, 2011 by Dara Kam

With less than 12 hours to go, lawmakers are now close to sealing a deal further cracking down on pill mills.

The final deal will include a ban on doctors dispensing powerful narcotics with no exemption for workers’ compensation physicians, no cap on the amount of doses pharmacies can dispense – a major sticking point for Sen. Mike Fasano, shepherding the bill in the Senate. It does include Attorney General Pam Bondi’s proposed language stiffening penalties against rogue pain management clinics and doctors. It will also ban pharmaceutical companies from contributing to the private foundation that pays for the state’s prescription drug database.

Limiting the amount of highly addictive pain drugs that get on the street has become a priority of Gov. Rick Scott, who testified before Congress on the issue last month touting his plan to track the drugs from the wholesaler to the pharmacy to the doctor. Scott had to give up on capping the dosage amounts after cancer hospitals and hospices complained the limits would keep them from being able to treat patients in chronic pain.

Procedurally, the Senate will take up the House’s bill (HB 7095), put the compromise language on it, and send it back to the House for a final vote before 10:16 p.m. That’s the earliest lawmakers can vote on the budget, the only thing they’re constitutionally required to do during the 60-day legislative session, and they are expected to call it quits shortly after. Gov. Rick Scott plans to join House Speaker Dean Cannon and Senate President Mike Haridopolos for the traditional sine die hankie drop.

Pill mill rules stalled in House

Friday, May 6th, 2011 by Dara Kam

Lawmakers are on the brink of finishing up work without ratifying rules implementing strict regulation of pill mills passed last year.

The Florida Senate unanimously signed off on two bills approving the new rules for doctors (SB 1990) and pain management clinics (SB 2168) a week ago but the House has yet to take them up with less than 18 hours left in the session.

The rules include penalties for doctors at the clinics who do not comply with a 72-hour prescription limit.

Efforts by Attorney General Pam Bondi and Sen. Mike Fasano, R-New Port Richey, to strengthen the regulations also are flailing, but even if passed would be difficult to implement without the current rules in effect.

“A lot of what has to be put in place has to be done by rule. It’s in the House’s hands. I don’t know what their intentions are,” Fasano said late Thursday night.

Palm Beach County’s Rep. Joe Abruzzo, D-Wellington, and former state Sen. Dave Aronberg, a Greenacres Democrat now working as Bondi’s drug czar, were instrumental in getting the pill mill regulations passed last year.

Lawmakers last year overrode Gov. Charlie Crist’s veto of a measure requiring the legislature’s approval of rules that cost more than $200,000 a year, meaning they must now sign off on rules regulating pill mills.

If they fail to act before Friday, it could be until the legislature reconvenes in January before they could be approved.

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.

Pill mill bill deal imminent

Monday, May 2nd, 2011 by Dara Kam

House and Senate leaders are close to reaching agreement on a pill mill crack-down package, according to Sen. Mike Fasano, the Senate sponsor.

“We’re almost there,” Fasano, R-New Port Richey, said Tuesday evening.

The final bill will likely do away with the House’s cap on the number of doses pharmacies can dispense of highly addictive pain medications, including oxycodone; include the House’s prohibition on using pharmaceutical manufacturers’ money to pay for the state’s drug database; and include a compromise on the House’s ban on physicians dispensing powerful pain medications.

The deal now would exempt physicians who perform surgery in their offices from the dispensation ban, including those who use local anesthesia, Fasano said.

The House already passed its version (HB 7095). The Senate could vote on Fasano’s bill (SB 818), make the changes, and send it back to the House as early as tomorrow.

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.


Senate prez: ‘A mistake was made’ in $1.75 million for drug database

Thursday, April 28th, 2011 by Dara Kam

The Florida Senate will vote on its pill mill bill tomorrow and remove the $1.75 million for the state’s drug database Senate President Mike Haridopolos said was mistakenly included in the package.

The chamber spent a lengthy session repeatedly rebuking Sen. Ellyn Bogdanoff’s efforts to require law enforcement officials to get search warrants before they can access the database before hurriedly approving an amendment sponsored by Sen. Mike Fasano dealing with “funding for the prescription drug monitoring program.”

Gov. Rick Scott and House Speaker Dean Cannon, who have both reversed their positions on scrapping the prescription drug database, have insisted that no taxpayer funds be used to pay for the program, as current law prohibits.

“First and foremost, I found out after the fact today that that was done. I did not anticipate that. I expect that to be removed tomorrow on third reading,” Haridopolos, R-Merritt Island, told reporters later in the day. Haridopolos has been an ardent proponent of the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program and has even said he believes the state should foot the bill for it.

“There’s been no bigger proponent of making sure we have this legislation done in the right fashion,” Haridopolos said. “I was told after we got off the floor. As soon as I was made aware of it, I let the governor and the Speaker know that that was an area that we were going to make adjustments on. I think a mistake was made today. When you make a mistake, you fix the mistake.”

With or without the money, the House and Senate plans remain far apart as the clock winds down on the legislative session.

The House plan restricts doctors ability to dispense narcotics, creates stricter permitting requirements for pharmacies and limits the amount of doses of highly addictive pain medications pharmacies can dispense. The Senate proposal instead strengthens penalties against pill mills and rogue doctors .

The Senate plans to take up the House’s measure (HB 7095) tomorrow, strip it out, put its bill on it and send it back to the House.

Pill mill legislation ready for House vote

Wednesday, April 20th, 2011 by John Kennedy

The House gave preliminary approval Wednesday to legislation aimed at closing “pill mills” that dispense painkillers and other prescription medications to drug dealers and addicts.

The measure (CS/HB 7095) advances the state’s plan to establish a prescription drug database, which earlier had been opposed both by Republican Gov. Rick Scott and House Speaker Dean Cannon, R-Winter Park, who have since reversed field and support the plan.

Scott even testified before a congressional committee last week touting Florida’s steps toward cracking down on pill mills, including those he initially condemned.

The legislation, poised for a final House vote Thursday, would include strict new regulations for doctors, pain-management clinics and prescription drug distributors, while also imposing new limits on pharmacies.

 The Senate’s version of the legislation (CS/SB 818) is still awaiting a full vote by the chamber.

The database push has been opposed by the Florida Medical Association and requires nearly all health care professionals, including doctors, to register with the state before prescribing controlled substances.

It also requires they use tamper-proof prescription pads, and forces health care providers to keep a log of all pain medications prescribed and give the log to law enforcement officials if requested.

Scott talks up drug database to Congressional committee

Thursday, April 14th, 2011 by Dara Kam

Once a foe of the state’s prescription drug database, Gov. Rick Scott boasted to a Congressional panel today about his administration’s efforts to get the system up and running.

Scott appeared before the U.S. House Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing and Trade in a hearing entitled “Warning: The Growing Danger of Prescription Drug Diversion” chaired by U.S. Rep. Mary Bono Mack, whose son Chesare was addicted to the powerful narcotic oxycodone.

Scott highlighted the “strike force” he established last month and focused on state lawmakers’ current efforts to cut off the source of the drugs by proposing strict regulation of distribution and dispensation of pain medications in Florida.

“The goal is clear. Target the sources of these drugs before they hit the streets,” Scott, joined by Kentucky Gov. Steve Bashear, testified.

Much of the hour-long panel featuring the two governors focused on what Florida is doing to prevent addictive pain killers from getting in the hands of drug dealers and combat prescription drug abuse.

Doctors need to be limited in the quantities of the drugs they prescribe and what they prescribe them for, Scott repeatedly said.

“The biggest thing we need to look at is regulating these manufacturers and what should these drugs be allowed to be used for,” Scott said. “The first thing is why are they even able to sell these things? There…should be a much more limited purpose that they can use these things for.”


Scott testified in DC on pill mills – watch live

Wednesday, April 13th, 2011 by Dara Kam

Gov. Rick Scott testifies in front of the House Energy and Commerce Committee about prescription drug abuse.

Gov. Rick Scott will appear before a Congressional committee on Thursday to testify about prescription drug abuse.

Watch the hearing live now.

Scott will join Gov. Steve Beshear of Kentucky, a Democrat, at the hearing entitled “Warning: The Growing Danger of Prescription Drug Diversion” at the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing, and Trade chaired by Rep. Mary Bono Mack.

Scott, who previously asked lawmakers for a repeal of the statewide prescription drug database law enforcement officials say is crucial in cracking down on prescription drug abuse, yesterday signed off on the latest state House pill mill bill that would keep the database, restrict doctors’ ability to dole out the drugs and establish new standards for pharmacies. The compromise raises hopes that the House and Senate will strike a deal on pill mill legislation before the session ends on May 6.

House committee approves new pill mill bill over objections of small pharmacists

Tuesday, April 12th, 2011 by Dara Kam

The House budget committee unanimously approved a pill mill compromise of sorts with Attorney General Pam Bondi’s blessing but over the objections of small pharmacists.

“We’re going to make a difference. We’re going to see a difference. You are going to give us the tools…to come in and shut down these drug dealers,” Bondi told the committee.

The omnibus measure, released late Monday, includes a slew of new regulations for pharmacies and doctors even as House GOP leaders are deregulating other professions.

The proposal, opposed by the Florida Medical Association, would require nearly all health care professionals, including doctors, to register with the state to be able to prescribe controlled substances, require that they use tamper-proof prescription pads, and force them to keep a log of all pain medications prescribed and give the log to law enforcement officials if requested.

But the plan received the most opposition from independent pharmacists, who would be subject to more strident permitting requirements than retail chains.

“You call this the pill mill bill. It might have originally been that. But this is really an anti-small pharmacy bill,” said pharmacist Linda Bezick of Greenville.

But lawmakers said the measure is necessary to help reverse the number of prescription overdoses in Florida, estimated at seven a day.

Rep. Rich Glorioso, R-Plant City, said that one of his family members is struggling with prescription pill addiciton.

“If we don’t pass this bill, we’re going to watch our kids die,” he said.

House, Senate coming together on pill mills

Tuesday, April 12th, 2011 by Dara Kam

A rewrite of the House’s plan to shut down pill mills brings the chamber closer to the Senate, bringing a standoff between GOP legislative leaders closer to resolution.

The House’s latest plan, which will be voted on by the budget committee this morning, keeps the current pill mill regulations, maintains the prescription drug database House Speaker Dean Cannon and Gov. Rick Scott previously wanted to scrap, and limits the amount of narcotic prescription doses pharmacies can dispense. Senate President Mike Haridopolos has refused to back down from his support for the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program, now underway after two years in limbo.

The strike-all amendment on the bill (HB 7095), which will be introduced this morning, also prohibits doctors from dispensing all Schedule II and III medications. Those include highly addictive oxycodone and hydrocodone.

And the proposal also requires all doctors and health care practitioners except those treating chronic, non-cancer patients to register with the state before they can prescribe controlled substances. The Senate’s plan does not include the limitations on doctors.

Attorney General Pam Bondi, who supports the House revision, is expected to testify before the committee at 10:30.

Prescription drug database back on track

Friday, April 8th, 2011 by Dara Kam

The state’s long-awaited prescription drug database is back on track after state health officials signed a final order today in a bid dispute keeping the program in limbo for months.

The Department of Health signed the order moving forward with the contract with Health Information Design Inc., the Alabama-based company that twice won administrative challenges, although Gov. Rick Scott – who scrapped the database in his budget proposal – remains dubious about it.

“The concerns he’s voiced still remain. He’s concerned about patient privacy and wants to make sure that funding this thing never ends up on the backs of taxpayers. He still doesn’t think it’s the silver bullet that so many proponents claim,” Scott spokesman Brian Hughes said.

Those proponents include law enforcement officials from the state’s top cop, Attorney General Pam Bondi, to Palm Beach County state attorney Michael McAuliffe, and Senate President Mike Haridopolos.

“Stopping pill mills has been my top priority since I took office, and the prescription drug monitoring program that the Department of Health will now be implementing is an important tool in combating this crisis,” Bondi said in a statement. “As part of a criminal investigation, the program will enable law enforcement to act more quickly in identifying and arresting pill mill operators.”

Haridopolos has been in a stand-off over the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program with House Speaker Dean Cannon, who wants to repeal the system lawmakers created two years ago but has yet to be implemented. Haridopolos said he not only wants it up and running, he’s willing to have the state pay for it although state law prohibits taxpayer money from being used to create or operate the database.

“The database will provide ‘shock and awe’ in Florida’s efforts to end the criminal abuse of legal prescription drugs,” Haridopolos, R-Merritt Island, said in a press release. “In addition to the Senate’s commitment to the database, pending legislation will strengthen the prescription drug monitoring program and provide even stronger privacy protections for individual Floridians.”

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.

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…)

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