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Under pressure, hipster retailer drops prescription line

Friday, June 14th, 2013 by Dara Kam

Urban Outfitters is apparently axing its tongue-in-cheek prescription drug line under pressure from health advocates and attorneys general, including Florida’s Pam Bondi.

Bondi’s staff said the Philadelphia-based chain did not contact her office but instead the AG learned about it online.

CNN reported that the company intends to drop the accessories that include a set of syringe-shaped shot glasses along with shot glasses, beer “koozies” and coasters that look like prescription pads.

The coasters bear the label “Al Koholic, M.D.” whose address is on “Brewskis Lane” in “Sloshville, NY.” The beer koozie, also “prescribed” by “Dr. Koholic, Al,” appears to be a prescription bottle for “BOOZEMIN.” And the “prescription shot” glasses are printed with the “Rx #: VRY-NBR8TD” with a quantity “As many as you can stomach” and refills: “Sure!”

CNN is reporting that Urban Outfitters is bowing to pressure from a variety of groups and killing the line.

“In the 20,000 products that comprise our assortment, there are styles that represent humor, satire, and hyperbole,” Urban Outfitters told CNN in a statement. “In this extensive range of product we recognize that from time to time there may be individual items that are misinterpreted by people who are not our customer. As a result of this misinterpretation we are electing to discontinue these few styles from our current product offering.”

Bondi, who’s been on a crusade against prescription drug abuse since her 2010 election, hailed the company’s decision.

“I commend Urban Outfitters for making the right decision by ending its prescription line of products. Prescription drug abuse has destroyed so many lives in our country, and we appreciate the sensitivity that Urban Outfitters has demonstrated by voluntarily discontinuing this line,” she said.

Bondi, other AGs ask Urban Outfitters to quit selling druggy accessories

Wednesday, May 22nd, 2013 by Dara Kam

Pam Bondi and 22 other attorneys general are demanding that Urban Outfitters quit selling accessories they say is glorifying drug use and “undermining” efforts to combat prescription drug abuse.

The trendy company is targeting the hipster crowd with a line of products that riff on prescription drugs, including a set of syringe-shaped shot glasses along with shot glasses, beer “koozies” and coasters that look like prescription pads.

The Rx-line appears to be as focused on booze as drugs. The prescription-pad coasters bear the label “Al Koholic, M.D.” whose address is on “Brewskis Lane” in “Sloshville, NY.” The beer koozie, also “prescribed” by “Dr. Koholic, Al,” appears to be a prescription bottle for “BOOZEMIN.” And the “prescription shot” glasses are printed with the “Rx #: VRY-NBR8TD” with a quantity “As many as you can stomach” and refills: “Sure!”

But for Bondi, whose made fighting prescription drug abuse her top issue since taking office in 2011, and the other top lawyers, the kitschy barware isn’t a joke.

“Profiting from a ‘prescription line’ that is contrary to Florida’s efforts to combat prescription drug overdoses and drinking is unacceptable. We are calling on Urban Outfitters to forgo a few sales and help us save a lot of lives,” Bondi said in a statement.

The products “demean the thousands of deaths that occur each month in the United States from accidental overdoses,” Bondi and the AGs from 22 states and Guam wrote to Urban Outfitters CEO and Chairman Richard A. Hayne in a letter dated today. “These products are not in any way fun or humorous but make light of this rampant problem. We invite you to pull these products from your shelves and join with us to fight prescription drug abuse.”

Read the attorneys general message here or after the jump.

(more…)

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.

(more…)

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 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 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.

(more…)

House passes pill mill crackdown

Thursday, April 21st, 2011 by Dara Kam

By a 116-1, the Florida House approved its plan to crack down on rogue doctors and rein in prescription drug abuse.

The measure keeps the state’s drug database and most current regulation of pain clinics and but bars doctors from dispensing narcotics from their offices, something the Florida Medical Association opposes. The plan (HB 7095) also sets new permitting requirements for pharmacies and limits the amount of highly addictive pain medications pharmacies can give out.

The measure received bipartisan support, including from lawmakers who testified about how addiction problems have personally affected their families.

“I stand here as one of those that’s involved with a family member” addicted to OxyContin, Rep. Rich Glorioso, R-Plant City, said. “I will tell you it’s devastating on everyone who comes in contact with it. I’ve had many sleepless nights on this issue.
My wife and I have cried together, prayed together. There may be a couple things in this bill we don’t like. There always is. But this bill will do great, great things to protect our young kids…I know there’s other members in here who’ve had to deal with this…It’s horrible. It’s absolutely horrible.”

The plan has the support of both Gov. Rick Scott, who originally opposed the drug database and wanted lawmakers to repeal it, and Attorney General Pam Bondi.

The Senate’s version of the pill mill legislation (SB 818) does not include the ban on doctor dispensing or the new pharmacy regulations.

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.”

(more…)

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, 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 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…)

Senate pill mill bill sails through committee

Tuesday, March 22nd, 2011 by Dara Kam

A Senate committee this morning unanimously approved a measure strengthening the state’s yet-to-be-implemented prescription drug database and creating harsher penalties for pill mills, one of Attorney General Pam Bondi‘s top priorities.

The Senate Criminal Justice Committee also stripped out a measure that would have created made it easier for doctors to prescribe tamper-proof narcotics that prevent drug addicts from crushing the pills to snort or inject the pain meds. Most generic drug manufacturers wanted that out of the bill because no generic drugs yet come in tamper-proof form.

Bondi urged the committee to pass the bill (SB 818) to make it easier for her and other prosecutors to crack down on rogue pain management clinics and doctors.

Bondi said she’s “never seen anything like” the illicit pain medication epidemic in her 20 years as a prosecutor in Tampa and stressed the need for the prescription drug database opposed by Gov. Rick Scott and House Speaker Dean Cannon. A House committee recently approved a measure that would repeal the database created by lawmakers two years ago. Senate President Mike Haridopolos, R-Merritt Island, is refusing to back down from his support for the database.

“It’s unreal. It’s everywhere you go,” she said. “We need a comprehensive plan. We need the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program.”

Bondi said drug dealers thwarted by a prescription drug database in their state are flocking to the Sunshine State to purchase drugs and sell them in Appalachia.

Sen. Mike Fasano, the bill’s sponsor, also pushed the committee to sign off on his proposal.

“There’s not a person in this room today…that hasn’t been affected by this epidemic,” Fasano, R-New Port Richey, said.

Senate digs in over drug database

Monday, March 14th, 2011 by Dara Kam

One of Attorney General Pam Bondi’s top priorities – a bill enhancing penalties for pill mill doctors and operators – received unanimous approval in its first Senate committee hearing this afternoon.

The measure (SB 818) would require the Board of Medicine to suspend a doctor’s license for six months and impose a minimum $10,000 fine for violating the state’s 72-hour dosage limit for pain management clinic docs.

Bondi said the harsher penalties – and more provisions in the yet-to-be-implemented prescription drug database included in the bill – will help her combat the state’s reputation as the nation’s illicit drug capital.

“We have become the destination for drug dealers,” Bondi said. “This is a horrible, horrible problem. Because the drug dealers are flying to Florida now to buy these drugs and take them back to other states. You are truly impacting lives today.”

The bill also enhances provisions in current laws related to the prescription drug database although the system has yet to get up and running two years after lawmakers created it.

The database is under fire from the Florida House where a committee last week passed a measure doing away with all regulation of pain clinics and replacing it with a ban on dispensing practitioners, who are responsible for only 16 percent of the oxycodone. The rest – 84 percent – comes from pharmacies.

UPDATE: Can guv kill drug database donation?

Friday, March 11th, 2011 by Dara Kam

UPDATE: Gov. Scott’s spokesman Brian Hughes said his boss never tried to return the $1 million donation to the private, non-profit Prescription Drug Monitoring Program Foundation.
“If the senator wanted an answer to his question, he should have called us,” Hughes said.
Scott “never communicated any opinion” about the grant to Purdue or the foundation, Hughes said.
“The decision is up to the foundation,” he said.

Does Gov. Rick Scott have the authority to reject a $1 million donation to a private foundation created by lawmakers to create the prescription drug database the governor opposes?

That’s what Sen. Mike Fasano, an ardent supporter of the yet-to-be-implemented Prescription Drug Monitoring Program, publicly asked Senate budget chief J.D. Alexander at a budget committee meeting this afternoon.

Fasano said he’s had no direct contact with Scott – “that’s no surprise,” he said -but had seen news reports that Scott was not interested in the $1 million Purdue Pharma, manufacturer of the highly addictive pain pills Oxycontin, offered to give to the foundation created to pay for the drug database.

“Does the governor have the right to reject that money?” Fasano asked.

Alexander diplomatically dealt with Fasano’s inquiry.

“I’m not sure,” the Lake Wales Republican, who’s had his own differences with Scott about his sale of the state’s planes, replied. “I share your concern. I certainly voted for and supported the effort to rein in the prescription drug mills.”

A House committee, with House Speaker Dean Cannon’s blessing, approved a measure yesterday repealing the drug database law enforcement officials believe is crucial in cracking down on prescription drug abuse.

Sen. Evelyn Lynn, R-Ormond Beach, piled on.

She asked the committee to find out how much the state is paying to prosecute and lock up drug dealers associated with pill mills.

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.

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