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Prescription Drug Monitoring Bill
The following are facts:
- More and more young people are turning to OxyContin and other opioids instead of heroin because they get the same “high”.
- More and more Floridians are dying each year from prescription drug overdoses.
- Florida is known as the state with multiple pain clinics where people can obtain multiple prescriptions for narcotic painkillers and other dangerous drugs because it does not have any way for doctors and pharmacies to know that people are obtaining multiple prescriptions. One student at Florida Atlantic University got prescriptions for 1,455 pills in 57 days and overdosed and died.
- Bill Janes, Florida Drug Czar, says that the prescription drugs being sold on the street are increasingly coming from legal prescriptions issued by Florida doctors.
- 35 states have enacted legislation which require prescription drug monitoring programs: 26 of those programs are currently operating and 9 are in the start-up phase.
- The prescription drug monitoring programs protect patient confidentiality and access to controlled substance prescription information through statutes or regulations.
- No existing prescription drug monitoring program has reported a breach of confidentiality.
- Prescription drug monitoring programs are being used to deter and identify many types of illegal activity including prescription forgery, indiscriminate prescribing and “doctor shopping” — which is a felony in some states.
- Largely because of prescription drug monitoring, drug abusers in those states are having greater difficulty in acquiring drugs through prescription forgery, doctor-shopping, or indiscriminate prescribing.
- States report that after a prescription monitoring program goes into effect, patients that are “doctor shopping” often move their activities to bordering states.
- The United States General Accounting Office found that state prescription drug monitoring programs improved the timeliness of law enforcement and regulatory investigations.
- The National Community Pharmacists Association, the Florida Pharmacy Association, the American Medical Association, the Florida Medical Association and most of Florida’s major newspapers support enactment of prescription drug monitoring legislation.
- The Florida legislature continues to refuse to pass a prescription drug monitoring program for Florida.
On April 6, 2008, Bill Janes, the Florida Drug Czar, was a guest on Larry G’s Prescription Addiction Radio show. Mr. Janes explained how a prescription drug monitoring bill will help Florida. He pointed out how well it has worked in other states to reduce doctor shopping—where people go to multiple doctors and get each of them to prescribe narcotics.
Stopping the easy proliferation of prescription drugs through doctor shopping is one of the biggest benefits of prescription drug monitoring bills. Many of our Florida patients tell us that the way they were able to obtain enough drugs to satisfy their habits and allow them to make enough money to continue their habit by selling drugs to others was by going to a number of doctors, complaining about the pain, and obtaining prescriptions for painkillers and other addictive drugs.
Another benefit of prescription drug monitoring bills is that it is much easier to stop the use of forged prescriptions which are rampant in Florida now.
At present, the Florida doctors and pharmacies being approached by people complaining of pain do not have any way to know if the patient is obtaining the same narcotics from other doctors—except to ask, and they are unlikely to get an honest answer if the person is doctor shopping.
In addition, there are some doctors who will cheerfully renew prescriptions for ever increasing amounts of dangerous prescription drugs with no regard to the devastation that this is creating. A prescription drug monitoring bill will help the authorities locate these rogue doctors and shut down their operations.
A bill to stop the illegal spread of these harmful and deadly drugs seems like it should pass unanimously. However, each time it has been introduced into the Florida legislature, it has been stalled by a few members and never even was voted on by the representatives.
Last Sunday night, Florida State Representative Jack Seilor called in to the Prescription Addiction Radio show to explain his bill that would enact a prescription drug monitoring program in Florida. Representative Seilor’s proposed legislation creates a pilot program in Broward County and requires the state Department of Health to take the database statewide by 2010.
When asked about the status of the legislation, Representative Seilor told host Larry G that the fate of the legislation is largely in the hands of Representative Aaron Bean. Representative Bean can either cause the legislation that can save thousands of lives to move forward or not. I suggest that you email Representative Seilor and thank him for sponsoring this legislation. His email address is Jack.Seiler@myfloridahouse.gov.
WHY IS IT STALLED?
Why is Representative Bean not moving this vital legislation forward? No one knows for certain, but there are mentions of “privacy” concerns. Privacy concerns? What does this mean and why can’t the legislation ensure, like it does in the 35 other states that have enacted similar programs, that privacy is protected?
I think all of us should contact Representative Bean’s office and ask for an explanation of why he is not pushing this legislation along to enactment. His address is:
200 House Office Building
402 S. Monroe St.
Tallahasee, FL 32399-1300
His email address is: email@example.com
His phone number is 850/488-6920.
Please ask him why he is not moving this prescription drug monitoring legislation forward as rapidly as possible before more Floridians lose their lives or have their lives ruined by addiction. You might also ask him if the lobbyists for Big Pharma have contacted him in support of this legislation since they say they support it.
THE CYNIC IN ME
We all know that Big Pharma has annual sales currently exceeding $450 billion a year and has more paid lobbyists than almost any other industry. There is a maxim that whenever you are looking for an explanation of something that doesn’t make sense in the business or political world, you should always follow the money.
Who stands to lose the most if the number of prescriptions of these dangerous drugs is curtailed? There will be some doctors who will not collect fees for office visits from the doctor shopping patients, and some of the rogue doctors will see their income slashed. There will be pharmacies that will see their revenue from filling prescriptions reduced.
Obviously, the ones who will lose the most are the companies that manufacture and sell these dangerous and deadly drugs. As long as Big Pharma continues to spend more money on marketing than on research and only really make money when people stay sick or get sicker, we know that we cannot trust what they say about reducing sales of their own products.
If Big Pharma says they support this legislation, then where are their lobbyists who are supposed to demand that it be passed?
Remember the statement, “We were born at night but not last night?” Big Pharma should follow Mark Twain’s advice about people who fabricate the truth, “Don’t tell fish stories where the people know you; but particularly, don’t tell them where they know the fish.“
We know Big Pharma for what it has become. We know the “fish.” Please contact Representative Bean and your Florida Representative and express your strong support for this legislation. We need Florida to have a prescription drug monitoring bill.
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