Ferlita applauds Prescription Drug Monitoring legislation

05/01/09 Seán Kinane
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Yesterday the Florida House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed prescription drug monitoring legislation that was passed last week by the Senate. If signed by the governor, the bill will create a database to “monitor the prescribing and dispensing of certain controlled substances,” including some prescription pain medication.

This morning, Hillsborough County Commissioner Rose Ferlita – who is also a pharmacist - held a press conference at the County Center to praise what she called this “public safety” bill.

“Effective 1 July ’09, our fine state will join 38 other states that already have a prescription monitoring program in place. This is personal for me, both as a Commissioner, and as a Pharmacist who has been practicing in this community for over forty years. Florida will no longer be the donor state where medications are easily acquired and then shipped to other states that have programs in place.”

Commissioner Ferlita is widely rumored to be running for Mayor of Tampa in 2011, but she would not comment on that Friday.

An analysis by the St. Petersburg Times found that more than 2,000 Floridians died from an overdose of the painkiller oxycodone from 2001 to 2008. Ferlita hopes the database created by this bill will reduce those numbers.

“No more doctor shopping for illicit drugs, illegal drugs, and misuse of prescription drugs. No more pharmacy shopping – filling prescriptions from one pharmacy to another. As a pharmacist, I have seen firsthand the devastation the misuse of legal drugs has caused. Families suffer, parents lose their children to drug overdoses, and our community is affected. More deaths have occurred from misuse of legal prescription drugs than from the use of all illicit drugs combined: cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine.”

As recently as Wednesday, a UPS employee was charged with stealing 14 packages of oxycodone from a warehouse. He confessed to the Pasco County Sheriff that he sold them on the street and is addicted to the drug. Such addictions have “increased the incidence of robberies at our community pharmacies,” Ferlita says, endangering pharmacists, employees, and shoppers.

The prescription drug bill will also track all recipients of controlled substances as a way to detect abusers and will prohibit physicians from practicing in a pain management clinic that is not registered with the Department of Health. Ferlita calls the bill a “win-win” for the medical profession, the community, and for youth. She hopes that it will be signed by Governor Charlie Crist, “Whom I am confident will support this bill and this legislation. Florida has won a very important victory today. …Florida is not in the business of dealing drugs or shipping drugs to other states anymore. If you plan to be in the business of drug dealing at the expense of youth in Florida, our prescription drug monitoring program will be in place to help prosecute you.”

The bill passed the House on Thursday with 103 votes for and only 10 against. The only Tampa Bay area legislator to vote against the bill was South Tampa Republican member of the state House, Faye Culp, who was not available for comment because she was leaving the state to attend to a family matter. It was passed unanimously by the Senate.

Senate Bill 462 - Prescription Drugs/Electronic Monitoring/DOH

unanimous vote in the Senate

103-10 vote in the House

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