As one of the few states in the U.S. without a prescription drug monitoring system, Florida became a gold rush of prescription drug abusers and dealers who wanted to score pills quickly and easily.
Police raids of shady pain clinics with parking lots filled with out-of-state license plates across Tampa and the state became commonplace. Luckily, after seven years of efforts by Florida Sen. Mike Fasano, R-New Port Richey, a prescription drug monitoring system was established in Florida in 2009 with bipartisan support, though delays kept it from reaching its December 2010 launch date.
However, in a foolish move that’s polar to the state’s interest, freshman politician and current Florida Gov. Rick Scott has proposed eliminating the soon-to-be implemented Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PDMP), and the Office of Drug Control – a product of former Gov. Jeb Bush and a favorite of Scott’s Republican Party – as part of his enormously controversial budget proposal released Tuesday.
“It is beyond my comprehension why the governor would propose the total elimination of the two entities that have been and have the potential to be the best tools this state will have in fighting prescription drug abuse,” Fasano said in a press release.
“Seven people die each day due (to) a link with prescription drugs,” he said. “The PDMP would have given health care professionals the ability to determine if people are doctor shopping or patronizing pill mills. Without this important program, Florida will take a step back 10 years or more into the past.”
The past Fasano is referring to is one that saw thousands of unnecessary deaths and destruction that followed the state’s role as dealer for the rest of the nation.
The PDMP would have provided a way to track information on who is prescribing and receiving dangerous and powerful prescription medications like Xanax, Oxycodone, Vicodin and others, tracking those who are trying to fill multiple prescriptions.
And while it’s only natural to assume that dismantling the tracking program would save the state money, this is not the case.
The monitoring program was going to see its first year of funding in the form of grants via a foundation created by the state Department of Health and the Office of Drug Control, according to the St. Petersburg Times.
It seems that the only ones benefiting from the dismantling of the tracking program are drug users and dealers who will, if Scott has his way, have a much easier time obtaining powerful prescription medication – a trip back to Florida’s good old days.
The Florida Legislature must not, even for a second, consider passing Scott’s budget proposal as long as it contains this measure. It would end up costing the state much more in principle than it could ever save in money