Gov. Rick Scott has moved to abolish a computer database that would track every prescription for narcotic drugs, one of the state's main weapons to combat pill mills.
Documents accompanying Scott's budget Monday ask the Legislature to repeal the 2009 law that approved the database after an eight-year fight, state officials said Tuesday. The database was set to start Dec. 1 but is stalled by a protest from an unsuccessful bidder.
"He does not believe this is a function that is best performed by government," Scott spokeswoman Amy Graham told Health News Florida. She did not say who Scott believes should run the system.
Scott's proposal stunned legislators, law enforcement officials and others who have been waiting anxiously for two years for a tool that 38 other states are using to control the illegal distribution of narcotic drugs from pain clinics.
Broward Sheriff Al Lamberti said he just met with Scott on Feb. 2 and told him pill mill abuse is a major problem in South Florida and that the database is the key. He said the governor seemed receptive to the idea.
"I'm very surprised," Lamberti said. "I stressed that to him, that we really need it as a deterrent. Thirty-eight states have it already. It's no wonder we're ground zero for this stuff. We don't have a deterrent in place."
The database would let doctors, pharmacists, pain clinics and police check whether a patient has received multiple, excessive prescriptions of narcotic drugs from multiple sources – a common practice among addicts and drug dealers who get their supplies from rogue pain clinics.
The database would be financed with $500,000 in grants, not by state tax dollars.
"It is beyond my comprehension why the governor would propose the total elimination… of the best tools this state will have in fighting prescription drug abuse," said state Sen. Mike Fasano, R-New Port Richey, who sponsored the database law and a major pill mill law last year.
Copyright © 2011, South Florida Sun-Sentinel
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