Florida’s House and Senate have unanimously passed a bill designed to shut down “pill mills,” pain clinics that cater to people shopping for opioid medications. Florida Governor Rick Scott, who has long opposed the drug monitoring database that is part of the legislation, said he will sign the bill into law, The Wall Street Journal reports.
The legislation imposes new penalties for physicians who overprescribe medication. Doctors will not be allowed to dispense painkillers in their offices or clinics. There are some exceptions, including surgeons and hospices. Proponents of the bill hope it will stamp out Florida’s reputation as the epicenter of the country’s illegal prescription drug sales.
Drug monitoring databases – which allow pharmacists and law enforcement officials to keep track of prescriptions — have been established in 42 states to prevent “doctor shopping” and to quickly identify doctors who are passing out prescription medication illegally. The Florida bill shortens the deadline that doctors have to report prescriptions to the database from 15 days to seven.
Governor Scott had said his opposition to the database is based on concerns about cost and patient privacy. In part to allay privacy concerns, the bill requires that administrators of the database undergo FBI background checks. The article notes that law enforcement can only use the database as part of an active investigation.
The drug monitoring program is expected to be up and running on August 28, the newspaper reports. Private funds are expected to cover set up costs and the first 18 months of operation.