Florida’s prescription drug monitoring database, which has been opposed by the state’s governor, was given the go-ahead on Friday by the state’s Department of Health. The Miami Herald reports that proponents of the database say it will help fight the state’s prescription drug epidemic, while Governor Rick Scott has said the database would be an invasion of privacy and would not help solve the prescription drug abuse epidemic plaguing the state.
Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi says the database will help law enforcement in quickly identifying and arresting operators of storefront pain clinics, the newspaper reports. The program will not rely on state funding. Federal grants and private funding, including $1 million from Purdue Pharma, which makes OxyContin, will pay for the database for about two years. The database program was scheduled to launch in December, but it was held up by bid disputes between vendors.
Florida has been a destination for people from other states who have been flocking to storefront pain clinics, known as “pill mills,” to stock up on prescription drugs such as OxyContin, Vicodin and Xanax. The database will not be a cure-all for the pill mill problem, the newspaper points out. Doctors are not required to check the database before prescribing drugs, and there will be a 15-day window to enter prescription information—plenty of time for people to hop from doctor to doctor to obtain large amounts of medication.