TALLAHASSEE – In accordance with House Bill 7095, State Health Officer and Surgeon General, Dr. Frank Farmer recently issued a statewide public health emergency declaration in response to the ongoing problem of prescription drug abuse and diversion in Florida.This is another step in Florida Governor Rick Scott’s multi-faceted approach to combating the prescription drug pipeline.
On June 3, Governor Scott signed House Bill 7095 into law in response to Florida’s epidemic of prescription drug abuse. Its intent is to protect public health and safety by stopping the many prescription drug overdose deaths in Florida. The new law, which is designed to tackle prescription drug distribution in several ways, increases penalties for overprescribing Oxycodone and other controlled substances, requires tracking of the wholesale distribution of certain controlled substances and provides support for the continued efforts of state agencies, state and local law enforcement and state prosecutors. The bill also bans doctors from dispensing these controlled drugs except under specific circumstances.
“Dr. Farmer’s declaration is an important milestone in Florida’s battle against the multiple threats to public health and safety as a result of rampant prescription drug abuse,” said Governor Scott. “Today’s efforts should serve as a reminder to practitioners that their first responsibility must be to their patient’s health rather than the easy money made from unethical and criminal prescribing and dispensing of controlled substances.”
The declaration requires dispensing practitioners who are no longer authorized to dispense controlled substances in listed in Schedule II and Schedule III of Section 893.03, Florida Statutes, to dispose of any inventory and cooperate fully with the Florida Department of Health (DOH), Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) and local law enforcement personnel. “Through this declaration, Florida is taking a proactive step to combat the illegal distribution of prescription drugs,” said Dr. Farmer. “Working with law enforcement officials, DOH can ensure practitioners are in compliance with the new prescription drug law by focusing on the physicians that are of the highest concern due to their purchasing and dispensing levels.”
Specifically, the declaration states within two days after July 1, DOH will identify dispensing practitioners who purchased more than an average of 2,000 unit doses of controlled substances listed in Schedule II or Schedule III per month in the previous six months and who pose the greatest threat to the public health. In addition, the declaration orders all state licensed dispensing practitioners who are no longer authorized to dispense controlled substances listed in Schedule II or Schedule III to dispose of their controlled substance inventory. Disposal can be achieved by either returning the drugs to their wholesale distributor or turning the inventory over to a local law enforcement agency and abandoning them. The declaration will remain in effect for 60 days unless amended or rescinded, or renewed with the concurrence of the Governor.
- In 2010, 98 of the top 100 doctors dispensing Oxycodone nationally were in Florida.
- In 2010, 126 million Oxycodone pills were dispensed through the top 100 dispensing pharmacies in Florida
- More Oxycodone is dispensed in the state of Florida than in the remaining states combined
As part of Florida’s comprehensive plan, in March 2011, Governor Scott announced a Statewide Drug Strike Force, headed by FDLE Commissioner Gerald Bailey, to combat the criminal distribution of prescription drugs in Florida. With support from Attorney General Pam Bondi and state and local law enforcement leaders, the Strike Force is charged with stopping the flow of dangerous drugs into communities by disrupting the major illegal supply points.
The full emergency declaration is available here (PDF).
Source: Florida DOH