Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Drug Law Overreach

Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Drug Law Overreach

Article excerpt

Don't let prescription-abuse bills pre-empt local ordinances

The Florida Legislature is considering bills that would improve state laws aimed at curbing prescription drug abuse. Many of the proposed changes are worthwhile and welcome, but they should not come at the expense of local ordinances that currently and successfully target prescription abuse.

A state Senate bill (CS/SB 1192) and a similar House version (CS/ HB 831) would, among other things:

- Require physicians to check the state's prescription drug database before prescribing powerful painkillers and other commonly abused drugs.

- Reduce, from seven to two days, the time in which pharmacists and others must report to the database the dispensing of a controlled substance.

- Remove a statutory prohibition against using grants from pharmaceutical companies to fund the database operation.

All these proposals would improve the laws governing the use and operation of the drug database, which even with its limitations, has helped Florida combat the deadly serious problem of prescription abuse.

Progress against 'pill mills'

Before the database was launched in 2011, Florida became known as America's "pill mill capital" -- a place where loose or non- existent regulations let illicit pain clinics and unscrupulous doctors overprescribe oxycodone and other powerful medications to drug dealers and addicts. Prescription drug abuse killed an average of seven Floridians a day.

Today, thanks in part to the database and other steps taken by the state, the number of Floridians killed by prescription drugs is in decline; the Florida doctors listed by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration as top buyers of oxycodone have plunged from 90 in 2010 to zero today; and doctors accused of overprescribing are in prison, on probation or facing criminal charges.

Yet, the state is not solely responsible for the progress in the fight against prescription drug abuse. …

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