TALLAHASSEE — With a final order in a bid dispute delivered today by the Department of Health, Florida is set to launch a prescription drug monitoring database that has been delayed since December.
"The database will provide 'shock and awe' in Florida's efforts to end the criminal abuse of legal prescription drugs," said Senate President Mike Haridopolos. "In addition to the Senate's commitment to the database, pending legislation will strengthen the prescription drug monitoring program and provide even stronger privacy protections for individual Floridians."
Killing the database before it started had been a top priority of Republican House Speaker Dean Cannon and Gov. Rick Scott, who say the database would be an invasion of privacy and won't help solve the state's prescription drug abuse epidemic.
The Legislature voted to create the program two years ago as part of an attempt to crack down on storefront pain clinics that hand out huge quantities of such prescription drugs as OxyContin, Vicodin and Xanax, and have made Florida a destination for drug dealers and abusers from other states. Laws also were passed that required registration and inspections of pain clinics, and prevented felons from operating the clinics.
Scott called for the Legislature to repeal a 2009 law mandating the database. The repeal was buried in more than 800 pages of legislation released In early February as part of his budget package slashing $4.6 billion from Florida's bottom line, even though the program relied on no state funding.
The move prompted harsh criticism from those on the front lines of the war on prescription drug abuse.
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.