Florida Is Not Serious About Prescription Abuse - of Any Kind
Last fall the state of Florida created a prescription database so pharmacists could enter records pertaining to the buying and selling of most painkillers in the state. This Prescription Drug Monitoring Program, or PDMP, allows law enforcement to monitor and catch both doctor-shopping patients and physicians who sell high-powered medications to addicts or drug dealers.
By all accounts it has worked well, with over 52,000,000 records being entered thus far. Last January, the Drug Enforcement Administration said oxycodone sales in Florida dropped 20 percent from 2010 to 2011. This was important, after all, since "seven people were dying of overdoses every day in Florida, and 90 of the top 100 oxycodone prescribing doctors nationally were in Florida.
The problem, however, is that a series of compromises made to get the PDMP legislation passed out of our pathetic excuse of a legislature prohibits the use of both state dollars and money from pharmaceutical companies to fund the database. And now, barely a year from its inception, funding is about to run out. The annual budget needed is about $500,000.
So they established the database, a critical tool in the fight against prescription drug abuse, but failed to either provide for or allow funding for it from the state or private sector. Instead, the PDMP was set up as a Foundation, a "non-profit entity", and it must seek donations and other grants to keep itself alive. In fact, it was a federal grant for $140,000 just awarded that is the only thing keeping this service running. Money will be gone by the end of the fiscal year
The irony is that the maker of oxycontin, Purdue Pharma, had offered $1 million to pay for two years of operation of this database. God forbid we should allow a company to assist in preventing the blatant abuse of its own products. Much better to set up a needed service and watch it slowly bleed to death from neglect. We have a clear double standard in this state, and they add up to mean that we are not serious about prescription abuse on any side of the equation.
The other area I refer to, of course, is prescription repackaging. If you are a company dealing in repackaged prescriptions who wishes to invest in legislation that allows for the naked rape of Florida employers and insurers in the form of physician dispensing and drastically overpriced medications, well go right ahead. There are no restrictions there. The whores we send to Tallahassee to masquerade as legislators will happily lap up as much cash as you care to offer, and they will make sure you get your money's worth in the form of their bought and paid for vote. It is estimated that Florida employers pay an additional $62,000,000 a year due to prescription repackaging and physician dispensing. We tried to stop that abuse last year, but company's engaged in that practice spent millions on our "legislature" and their special interests to stop the effort.
Turns out that most of our legislators are their own special interests. Go figure.
Perhaps we should require the prescription repackagers to funds the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program. They seem to have a lot of extra cash laying around.
I am not trying to confuse or compare pharmaceutical companies with drug repackagers. I just find it ironic that we won't let one group fund a system that protects virtually everybody while we let another spend with wanton abandon to protect their own captive market and resultant obscene profit structure that helps no one beyond their investors. It makes no sense.
What it really means is that Florida has virtually no interest in preventing prescription drug abuse of any kind. And no Floridian is better off for that lack of effort.
Robert Wilson is President & CEO of WorkersCompensation.com, and "From Bob's Cluttered Desk" comes his (often incoherent) thoughts, ramblings, observations and rants - often on workers' comp or employment issues, but occasionally not.
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