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Gov. Scott Vows to End “Oxycontin Express,” Yet Legislature Weakens Pill Mill Regulations

| March 29, 2011

When it comes to pill mills and drugs such as Oxycontin and Oxycodone, it's not yet clear, in Florida, who has what, or whom, in a vise. (© Steve Gray)

When it comes to pill mills and drugs such as Oxycontin and Oxycodone, it's not yet clear, in Florida, who has what, or whom, in a vise. (© Steve Gray)

As lawmakers remain divided about how to fight pill mills, Gov. Rick Scott on Monday announced a statewide law-enforcement effort to stop what he described as the “Oxycontin express.”

Scott and Attorney General Pam Bondi said the Florida Department of Law Enforcement will work with other state agencies and local police to coordinate regional crackdowns on the illegal sales of painkillers.

“We’re going to change the direction of this,” Scott said during a news conference in the Capitol. “This is not going to continue.”

Scott also at least partially endorsed a House proposal to prevent doctors from dispensing drugs in their offices. Scott, however, added a caveat that such a ban should include “appropriate” exceptions — and didn’t elaborate about what those exceptions might be.

Florida has become a magnet in recent years for drug abusers and traffickers from other states, as unscrupulous clinics and doctors have prescribed and sold massive amounts of drugs such as Oxycontin.

Pill mills also have become one of the most-controversial issue of this spring’s legislative session, as Scott and House leaders call for scrapping a prescription-drug database that lawmakers approved in 2009 to help track painkiller sales.

A Senate committee Monday rejected a proposal to kill the database, which has not started operating. Senate Health Regulation Chairman Rene Garcia, R-Hialeah, proposed the elimination because he argues the database could lead to invading the privacy of people who legitimately need controlled substances.

“Today, it’s fine,” said Garcia, who tried to add the database elimination to another bill dealing with pill mills. “But what happens in the future?”

But Sen. Mike Fasano, a New Port Richey Republican who was a leader in passing the database, said 34 other states have similar programs. Ultimately, the Health Regulation Committee rejected Garcia’s proposal in a voice vote.

The committee, however, approved a bill that would make changes to prescription-drug laws passed during the past two years. For example, it would eliminate a ban on doctors dispensing more than a three-day supply of drugs to patients who pay with cash or credit cards.

Lawmakers said last year that such a ban would help prevent drug abusers from going to clinics with wads of cash and walking out with large supplies of drugs. But bill sponsor Ellyn Bogdanoff, R-Fort Lauderdale, said she is concerned about hindering legitimate dispensing of drugs.

Bogdanoff said she is trying to strike a “balance between legitimate pain-management doctors and drug dealers.”

Fasano, who said he has concerns about changing the 72-hour ban, also is moving forward with another bill that addresses pain clinics. Bogdanoff said she hopes to work with Fasano to reach agreement on a final bill.

Scott tried to stay away from the database issue during the news conference Monday, though he acknowledged the disagreement with the Senate and other supporters of the tracking system.

The new law-enforcement effort will include providing $800,000 to local police agencies to help pay for costs such as officer overtime. FDLE Commissioner Jerry Bailey said the money will come from leftover federal grant funds.

Bailey said a meeting will be held Tuesday in Orlando to start coordinating the effort, which will be broken up into seven regions. Along with local police, the effort will also involve officials from the Florida Department of Health, the Agency for Health Care Administration and the Department of Business and Professional Regulation.

Flanked by police chiefs, sheriffs and prosecutors during the news conference, Scott said the prescription-drug problem involves a chain of players, including wholesalers.

“We should be able to figure out how to stop this,” he said.

Bondi has been an outspoken supporter of stiffening criminal penalties to address the problem.

“We all recognize what a tremendous problem this is,” she said.

–Jim Saunders, Health News Florida

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4 Responses for “Gov. Scott Vows to End “Oxycontin Express,” Yet Legislature Weakens Pill Mill Regulations”

  1. elaygee says:

    People like these have been fighting a losing war on drugs for over 50 years and have spent $3 Trillion on it with no visible result and no solution.

    How long and how much will they spend before they legalize and tax and then control it?

    Its the same problem as Prohibition was and you know how that ended.

  2. PC MAN says:

    Maybe a little Oxycontin might make Rick Scott less of an asshole.

  3. Mario says:

    I would really enjoy seeing Rick Scott and every other GOP member on some Oxy. :) Everyone needs to chill on this issue, if there really is an issue.

    Again, the GOP loves to institute laws and regulations that invade our rights to privacy and eliminate our freedoms. Our right to privacy is protected under HIPPA, especially when it relates to doctor/patient privilege … a sacred trust that must be maintained between doctor and patient.

    Regardless of the few who abuse these drugs, a database MUST NOT be developed which places a law abiding individual, who just happens to be a patient with chronic pain, in jeopardy of being singled out and harassed, just because they require pain medication.

    Unfortunately, we really have no idea what the truth is here, what the real issue is, and for me, I find it to be just another example of the radical right attempting to control every aspect of our natural lives.

  4. Mel says:

    I’m furious at this situation!! .. Truly livid! Upset
    It’s October 2013 and unfortunately the last 13 months I’ve been placed on Oxycodone, which so far the only medication that assist’s with the aftermath of what a surgeon’s mistake during my surgery in August 2012 did to me..
    Also.. This after trail & error is the only medication I can take without severe reaction!

    I’m in chronic pain daily…. I have always followed ALL the rules and Blessed to have four children under age 12 with a wonderful helpful caring Husband,who has seen me suffer when I am without my meds….

    The only thing since that dark August day for me has helped live a more “normal” life is because I’m on pain medication to help me daily..
    I despise..
    I HATE This situation we are forced to live in, where as of today…. I haven’t been able to FIND a Pharmacy to help me fill my prescription for my medication, cause there was NO deliveries within nearly 100 miles of SW Florida to ANY pharmacy’s!!! They’re all out too!
    My Pharmacy these last several months have not been able to get a normal consistent delivery of anything with Oxycodone in it.. Mine is 15mg.

    It’s horrific to us, chronic patient’s, who require this to live better! Horrible! The SW Florida ( Port Charlotte) Pharmacies are “rejected”, “denied”, to have their orders filled monthly ,cause of this BS issue!

    Thank you DEA/FDA/ “BIg Brother”..No.. Think Mommy Daddy controller’s more so… For always interfering where your nose doesn’t belong! This ..YOUR BS CHOICE Makes us suffer more!
    You are going to cause MORE harm than good here & some may even become pissed off more,than they currently are,which I’ve even heard of Pharmacy’s having their customer’s become violent over this non-sense and attack them, cause they don’t believe their lies cause they’re afraid of DEA/FDA BS. What’s next… How many times a week we eat meat’s,junk food? Or how many Alcoholic beverages were allowed to consume???? BS! Hmm?

    Yes.. there IS abuse… It’s from our Government being like narcissistic assholes.. STOP BEING CONTROLLING .. STOP!

    *We Are NOT Your collateral damage in YOUR war against drugs!!! *

    Just because some choose to make poor decisions.. don’t punish the rest of who truly NEED and require our meds ..NOT to get high.. to feel more normal, cause of our injuries, pain ect..
    Some days I’m not able to get out of bed when I should, cause I’m in SO much horrible pain.. Especially when I’m WITHOUT My medications!
    This wasn’t something I asked,nor ever wanted to happen, nor would wish what I went through,or have been suffering through since last August, but i HAVE TO and am dealing with it best I can….YOU Make it worse for my entire Family when you don’t allow but certain limits on medications.. !.!.! and online Pharmacy’s aren’t always reliable either now! You actually think Florida and Southern States are bad?? But claim a shortage for some time?! Truly??
    Look around.. Every where.. There’s always something that will happen ..even if legal.. IE: drunks,.abuse, psycho’s, and crazy controlling ppl! .. as any one who does anything that can come addicted/abuse!

    .. Hey Government…. Let’s take AWAY YOUR coffee,or tea for a day,or two..Or, a month!.. tea Party?? Hmmm?
    Yup! Let’s see how that think that is fair!! Or, smokes!
    Or your scotch,or beer you probably drink loads of after you make these commands for us to live, but hypocritical BS!

    I’m 35.. I shouldn’t have to feel like this and my children shouldn’t have to suffer either, when I cannot be their awesome multi-tasking Mom….Or, my Husband’s incredible Wife.. As I WAS before my injuries!… It starts a BAD ripple effect….

    *** Well.. Let’s PRAY you, or your beloved NEVER HAVE TO suffer, as we do and NOT have their medications to help them live..or, survive better!

    Another thing.. Keep it up.. You’re going to see a rise on street drugs increase anyhow….FROM the chronic suffer’s who can’t get their medications filled monthly from their Pharmacies, due to this..YOUR deliberate controlling shortage.. ppl are going t become more frustrated… MORE pissed off & angry Ie: patients/customers/ppl in general..
    *** MORE Unemployment, cause people may not being able to work cause they’re in pain….lack of meds!
    AND… There goes the Government assistance and more tax payer’s money being wasted on BS thing’s…..AGAIN…..Knock it OFF.. You won.. it’s over….Done with and you busted our FL “Pill Mill’s”.. GO After hard core criminals.. Like rapist, murders, ect…
    Spend more money on that stuff,if you must…..NOT more roads in FL that don’t need it….. Not wasting OUR money on your drug wars ect..

    Something you truly should of thought & considered the FULL EFFECT prior to YOUR Prohibition war on drugs..

    Hey .. Here’s one…
    USE More of OUR TAX Money on our failing Public School System’s!

    Ohhh….Don’t even get me started on that story now.. that chaps my butt purple red sore!

    I’m NOT too happy about the wonderful Education choice’s our Governor has made for our children, as well.. Seriously?!
    POOR Choices from your ignorant behalf.. You didn’t STOP anything!
    BTW—->>>>People regardless are going to make their OWN choice’s to abuse drug’s.. chemical cleaner’s, sinus med’s…ECT….. WAKE UP! ..Could be ANY OTHER mind altering drugs..NOT just this one particular..
    ** For you… Going to cause more rebellion! … SO..JUST be there with treatment center’s.. and other forms of help, but stop making OUR choices for US! ..
    You just made more ppl resent you and our Government for removing our rights.. and violating HIPPA rights too isn’t kind ! wake up.. You’re hurting older citizens..Vets…<— YOUR Proud Veteran's who have to suffer more! And Parents… Like me..Or, anyone other who shouldn't have to live poorly in pain, cause of head strong Government decisions to save face and make your self look best!
    Wouldn't get ya re-elected..FOR SURE! YOU and many other Florida officials have Now LOST MY VOTE and my Large Family's!.!.!.!
    AND probably with Many others! ;o)
    Pat yourself on your back… Pompous!

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