Florida drug database a 'go,' despite Gov. Scott's objection

Miami Herald/St. Pete TimesApril 9, 2011 

TALLAHASSEE — Despite continued objections from Gov. Rick Scott, a prescription drug monitoring database — held up since December — is set to launch.

The Department of Health on Friday issued a final order in a months-long bid dispute between two vendors, giving the program a green light.

Killing the database before it started was a top priority of Scott and Republican House Speaker Dean Cannon, who say it would be an invasion of privacy and won’t help solve the state’s prescription drug abuse epidemic.

But with the program mandated by statute, there is little opponents can do to stop it now that the legal issues surrounding it have been resolved.

The news prompted cheers from those who see the database as a critical tool in the fight against the state’s prescription drug epidemic.

“The database will provide 'shock and awe’ in Florida’s efforts to end the criminal abuse of legal prescription drugs,” said Republican Senate President Mike Haridopolos, a consistent champion of the program.

Attorney General Pam Bondi, who has made combating prescription drug abuse a focus of her administration, praised the development.

“As part of a criminal investigation, the program will enable law enforcement to act more quickly in identifying and arresting pill mill operators,” she said in a statement.

Scott had called for the Legislature to repeal the 2009 law requiring the database as part of a budget package he released in February that slashed $4.6 billion from Florida’s bottom line, even though the program relied on no state funding.

Federal grants and private fundraising efforts — including $1 million from Purdue Pharma, the maker of OxyContin — have generated enough money to run the database for about two years.

Read the full story at MiamiHerald.com

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