In a move that has state lawmakers, health officials and law enforcement agencies up in arms, Florida’s new governor, Rick Scott, has announced his intention to scuttle the long-planned and eagerly anticipated Florida Prescription Drug Monitoring Program.
The drug monitoring system holds high hopes for significantly reducing the tragic toll of prescription drug dependencies and addictions across the state, particularly for the narcotic painkillers oxycodone, OxyContin and hydrocodone. Such a system alerts authorities if someone attempts to fill multiple or inappropriate prescriptions.
In Florida, prescription drugs such as OxyContin, Oxycodone and Hydrocodone claim an average of seven deaths every day — 2,555 people a year. Think how public health officials would react to seven people dying from some contagious disease every day of the year. This is a serious public health concern, and is an epidemic by actual medical definition.
For Florida’s numerous oxycodone detox centers which are already dealing with countless victims of the epidemic, Scott’s announcement is more than just disappointing — it is deeply disturbing and very puzzling.
Scott cited the estimated $1 million setup costs for the system as not affordable right now. Instead, the governor said, the emphasis should be on prosecuting the drug takers and drug sellers. And he said it would violate personal privacy.
Our new governor is blowing PR smoke at the media and the public. He has to know that the federal government put up $800,000 towards the system, and another $500,000 was raised from private donations — the costs are covered!
The media and most of the public know this, and have caught Scott in the noose of his own PR smokescreen. Media pundits are wondering who he’s protecting, or what he’s trying to hide.
As for following the perpetrators, Scott also has to know that multi-agency, federal, state and local task forces are already targeting pill mills. They raided 15 clinics this week in Broward, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach counties, for example, and arrested 5 pill-pushing doctors. Several owners and employees were also charged, and millions of dollars in cash and property were seized.
But however valuable all this may be, there are hundreds more pill mills — more than a thousand of them across Florida. Gathering legal evidence is painstakingly slow — the raids this week were over a year in the making.
And while police work crawls forward, millions more oxycodone pills will continue to flood the streets, thousands more citizens will fall victim to dependence and addiction, and hundreds will suffer sudden, unexpected deaths.
As long as the drugs are easy to come by, fewer addicts will choose to get into an Oxycodone detox center, and turn their lives around. Some of these people will, of course, die. And in some ways, they and their loved ones will have Rick Scott to thank for that.
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Without monitoring, oxycodone detox will continue to be pushed
Florida has become the main source in America for prescription drugs diverted for illicit use. In 2009, for example, 98 of the top 100 oxycodone prescribers in the nation were in Florida. DEA evidence revealed that Florida prescribers wrote prescriptions for 19 million doses of oxycodone.
Tens of thousands of “patients” swarm into Florida from all across the South and Southeast, from as far north as Maine, and from as far west as Illinois and beyond, to visit “pill mills” and load up before heading home with hundreds, often thousands, of oxycodone, hydrocodone, OxyContin, Xanax and an alphabet soup of other dangerous and addictive drugs.
Florida’s “pain clinics” are nothing more than legalized drug peddlers, where drugs are exchanged for cash only, often many times what is charged in legitimate pharmacies.
Highway patrol and city police in a dozen states stopping cars for various infractions routinely find thousands of prescription narcotics obtained at Florida pill mills. These busts are carried as news items almost daily from all across the country, all reporting on seizures of huge caches of prescription narcotics that were obtained in Florida.
State lawmakers, public health officials and law enforcement personnel have been working around the clock for years to combat Florida’s prescription drug epidemic, and the prescription drug monitoring system was supposed to be a vital part of that battle.
Such monitoring programs are already operating, or nearly so, in at least 40 other states. Their effectiveness at reducing prescription drug diversion and related crime has been widely proven. The systems also prevent thousands of potentially deadly prescription errors caused simply by poor record keeping, and poor communication between patients and doctors.
Pill-pushing pain clinics and crooked doctors and pharmacies would be subject to the monitoring system, as well as regular pharmacies and doctors. Having to actually record patient names and prescriptions would put most pill mills out of business instantly.
With the flood of illicit oxycodone and other drugs stopped because of the monitoring system, the numbers of new dependencies and addictions could begin to drop. At the same time, many existing victims would decide to choose oxycodone detox programs rather than descend into the hard-scrabble hell of street drugs.
This week’s raids on pill mills came the day after Scott announced his opposition to the monitoring system. The warrants noted how the pill mills flourish in Florida with minimal regulations, which is further enabled because we don’t have the tracking systems used in most other states.
A report in the Miami Herald newspaper said that “the raids only reinforced the notion, widely held by law enforcement and most of the state’s medical associations, that without a monitoring system, Florida invites criminal operations in the guise of medical clinics.”
If Scott really wants to crack down on drug takers and drug sellers, he knows that the Prescription Drug Monitoring System is a huge move in that direction. By tracking every prescription and every purchase of controlled drugs, the automated system provides a serious deterrence to doctor shopping, crooked doctors and pharmacies. It would put an end to the thousands of bogus, out-of-state “patients” scoring drugs at multiple pill mills in a single day.
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Novus oxycodone detox offers faster, more comfortable withdrawal
Novus medical oxycodone detox is successful because our oxycodone detox program:
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Clearly, Novus medical oxycodone detox programs are better than most. One of the best features is the speed; many patients are on their way home in just a week or so, ready to resume their lives free from dependence on oxycodone, or enter longer-term oxycodone rehab programs to get to the bottom of their oxycodone addiction.
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