MANATEE -- Those representing substance abuse prevention organizations Tuesday asked the Manatee County Commission to tighten its regulation of legally-prescribed pain medications.
Among their requests was that doctors be required to pregnancy-test women of child-bearing age before prescribing opiates, as babies are being born addicted to prescription drugs taken by their young mothers.
Rita Chamberlain, coordinator for the Manatee County Substance Abuse Coalition, told the board that the situation had reached crisis proportions.
“We need to position ourselves away from being the weak link,” on the Gulf coast, she told the board, adding that otherwise, “we wil face serious consequences.”
“What they’re seeing is the stronger your ordinance, the less likely these physicians will take up shop in your county, so if you have the weakest ordinance, they’l l come here,” said Ruth Lyerly, a board member at the Substance Abuse Coalition.
Also testifying before the board was Kim Lott, of Bradenton, whose son, Sam, 23, died homeless last month after a long struggle with addiction to prescription pain medications, among other substances.
Shedding tears, she begged the commission to firmly address the problem.
“Please, please stop this madness, our children are dying at an alarming rate everyday,” she said, adding that Florida and Manatee County are the epicenter of the problem.
“These doctors are merely drug dealers in white coats,” she said.
Sara Kennedy, Herald reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7031.