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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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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…)

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.

UPDATE: House committee set to abolish pain clinic oversight, do away with drug database

Thursday, March 10th, 2011 by Dara Kam

CORRECTION: The House Majority Office data about the number of dispensing practitioners in Florida is incorrect. The actual number is 156, not 56, according to House Speaker Dean Cannon’s spokeswoman Katherine Betta. She also point out that although Florida’s dispensing practitioners comprise only 11% of those who hand out oxycodone nationally, but they dispense 85% of the oxycodone sold by practitioners in the U.S.

With House Speaker Dean Cannon‘s blessing, a House committee is preparing to abolish all oversight of the state’s pain management clinics and repeal a controversial prescription drug database law enforcement officials, including Attorney General Pam Bondi, believe is crucial in combating illicit narcotic trafficking.

The House Health and Human Services Committee Chairman is slated to vote on two bills (PCB HHSC 11-03, PCB HHSC 11-04) at an 8 a.m. meeting this morning that would repeal current laws regulating pain management clinics in an effort to crack down on pill mills and impose restrictions on the types of drugs doctors would be allowed to dispense.

One of the bills would bar Florida doctors registered as “dispensing practitioners” from handing out Schedule II, III, IV or V drugs, including highly addictive oxycodone and methodone.

But critics of the measure, pushed by committee chairman Robert Schenck, R-Spring Hill, say it will do little to keep the narcotics out of the hands of drug dealers because most of the prescription drugs are dispensed by pharmacies.

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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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