Florida Governor has change of heart, will allow tracking of prescription pain pills

Florida Governor Rick Scott had a change of heart and agreed to implement a statewide prescription monitoring program. The move comes after strong criticism from Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear and Congressman Hal Rogers.

Florida Governor Rick Scott had a change of heart and agreed to implement a statewide prescription monitoring program. 

Scott’s decision earlier this year to shutdown the program drew sharp criticism from Congressman Hal Rogers and Governor Steve Beshear.

Rogers had written two letters calling on the Florida Governor to reconsider his decision.

Click here to read Congressman Roger’s letters to Florida Governor

Governor Beshear issued this statement in response to Scott’s decision.

“This morning I testified at a Congressional hearing on the epidemic of prescription drug abuse that has hit Kentucky hard, despite our successful prescription drug monitoring program.  A large part of our current problem is the illegal prescription drug pipeline from Florida, which does not have such a monitoring system.  In October 2009, during the state’s largest drug bust, Kentucky law enforcement officials arrested more than 500 people in connection with diverting prescription drugs, all of whom had a Florida connection. 

Therefore, I have been urging Florida Governor Rick Scott, both in personal conversation and by letter, to implement such a system in Florida.  Others, including Kentucky Congressman Hal Rogers and Lt. Governor Daniel Mongiardo, have been doing the same.  Although Gov. Scott was initially against such a system because of privacy concerns, I am excited to announce that this morning Gov. Scott advised me privately and at the hearing that he was moving ahead with the implementation of a prescription drug monitoring system.  This is great news for Kentucky and could save thousands of lives.”

Congressman Rogers issued this news release.

Today, U.S. Representative Hal Rogers (KY-05) hailed the hard-fought implementation of Florida's Prescription Drug Monitoring System (PDMP). After months of pleading by federal and state officials, in a congressional hearing today, Governor Rick Scott reversed his stance in opposition to Florida’s PDMP roll-out and testified that the Florida Department of Health has begun implementation of the database.

Governor Scott's decision comes just weeks after Rogers and other officials, including Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear and U.S. Drug Czar Gil Kerlikowske, expressed sharp criticism for his refusal to implement the state's monitoring system which was passed into law in 2009.

"It is no secret Florida’s pill mills have been ground zero for the illicit diversion of the drugs that are wreaking havoc in Kentucky and around the country, and I’m glad Governor Scott has finally seen the light,” stated Rogers.  “This is a great day for the Commonwealth and all of our neighboring states that have been impacted by the prescription pain pills rapidly funneling out of Florida to feed the addiction epidemic plaguing our families.  Every day, we lose three people to overdose-related deaths in Kentucky, and now is no time to shy away from the immense challenge of shutting down the pill pipeline."

According to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), 98 of the top 100 doctors dispensing Oxycodone nationally are in Florida, concentrated in the Miami, Tampa, and Orlando regions. 126 million Oxycodone pills are dispensed through pharmacies in those regions, which is by far more than any other state in the nation.

In his testimony to the Congressional Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing and Trade, Governor Scott said, "together, if we hold the manufacturers, wholesalers, doctors and pharmacies accountable, we can win this fight," and highlighted a newly formed Statewide Drug Strike Force to facilitate multi-agency cooperation in battling the drug epidemic.  As part of the hearing, Rogers also provided written testimony.

Earlier this week, Florida's Surgeon General issued a final order to end a contract bidding dispute that had also blocked implementation of the system. Officials expect Florida's PDMP to be up and running within 90 days. 

"The 'Oxy Express' is headed for a shutdown," said Rogers. "Law enforcement agencies in Florida will soon have the tools they need to coordinate with agencies along the pill pipeline route and will be putting the brakes on these interstate dealers."


(AP) - The governors of Florida and Kentucky urged

Congress on Thursday to help states fight the rise of so-called "pill mills" and the abuse of prescription painkillers hurting their states' communities.



Florida Gov. Rick Scott and Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear told lawmakers that the illegal distribution of prescription drugs has exploded in their states in recent years despite efforts to shut them down and their states needed help.



"This is a national problem that demands national solutions," said Beshear, a Democrat.



A House panel examining prescription drug abuse heard from the governors, law enforcement and addicts' family members intent on slowing down the nation's fastest-growing form of drug abuse.

Prescription drug abuse has been elusive because 70 percent of people report getting pain killers from a friend or relative and the drugs are perceived to be safer because they are made by drug companies and dispensed by pharmacies.



Many states lack databases used to detect pill mills or patients who shop for prescriptions among multiple doctors.



Much of the problem centers in Florida. Nearly all the top 100 doctors dispensing oxycodone nationally are based in the Sunshine State and more doses of oxycodone are dispensed in Florida than the rest of the nation.



Scott, a Republican elected last year, said Florida was coordinating its law enforcement to target physicians and pharmacies that improperly dispense the painkillers. "Doctors who have forsaken their commitment to people's health in exchange for the quick buck of unethical and criminal dispensing must be put to an end," Scott said.



Lawmakers in Florida are considering legislation to strengthen a database to monitor prescriptions. Scott wanted the database repealed and raised concerns about patient privacy but recently said he would support the tracking system.



Beshear said Kentucky's monitoring system has been in place for a decade but the lack of a database in Florida has led to a pipeline of pills from there to Kentucky, where 82 people die every month from drug overdoses. He urged Congress to provide more money and resources for law enforcement, especially in South Florida, to investigate drug trafficking and to continue funding for a drug monitoring grant program that helps states share data on the problem.



Law enforcement has tried to crack down on the problem. In February, U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration agents and local police made several arrests in South Florida following a lengthy undercover operation into illegal pill mills.




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