Florida's 'Pill Mill' Law In Effect Without Database listen10/01/10 Kimberly Vlach
WMNF Drive-Time News Friday | Listen to this entire show:
State Senator and Democratic candidate for Attorney General, Dan Gelber, says the new state law cracking down on so-called pill mills and doctor shopping doesn’t do enough.
Florida’s 'Pill Mill' law went into effect today without having a Prescription Drug Monitoring Program - an electronic database used to track excessive dispensing of prescription drugs by doctors. Without it, critics say, the new Pill Mill law won’t be as effective as it is in other states which do have tracking systems. Florida's database is being held up in litigation due to a mistake in the contract bid process with the Department of Health.
"Everyday this is mired in litigation, seven people are dying in this state, and that has to stop," says State Senator Dan Gelber (D-Miami Beach). He says the case needs to go into immediate arbitration and the database needs to be created in order to "get rid of these doctor shoppers."
According to Gelber, over twenty-four hundred people in Florida died last year from prescription drug overdoses. 681 deaths were in the counties of Hillsborough, Pinellas, Pasco and Hernando. He says that Pinellas county loses an average of one person every thirty-five hours to an overdose by prescription narcotics.
"This is the new drug war in Florida," Gelber states. Making the practice of writing excessive narcotic prescriptions and filling those prescriptions illegal isn't enough, he says. "The only way to change the behavior in the marketplace is to put prosecutors and investigators on the ground, dealing with it. Somebody’s gotta go to jail."
Because cracking down on these crimes is labor intensive, the Attorney General candidate says that he wants more resources to be assigned to this…as he put it...crisis. In addition to more staff in the prosecuting offices, he wants more law enforcement officers on all levels of government, including the Drug Enforcement Administration.
"The Attorney General and the legislature need to ask the federal government for more resources," he says. "The DEA does have a province on this," he adds. "If you haul away enough of these guys and send them to jail, then those bad guys will stop coming to this state to exploit our citizens."
The Senator notes a study from the Broward County Sheriff’s Office and the Center for the Study and Prevention of Substance Abuse at Nova Southeastern University which found that out of the top fifty practitioners who dispense oxycodone in the United States, forty-nine of them are in Florida.
"This is an epidemic crime. It's killing Floridians and it's killing citizens outside of Florida because we have become essentially a Costco for pill mills," Gelber says.