Prescription Drug Monitoring Program one step closer to becoming reality
Despite several hurdles, Florida’s Prescription Drug Monitoring Program is steadily moving forward.
Gov. Rick Scott doesn’t want it, due to privacy and cost concerns, while most other major political players (including Senate President Mike Haridopolis, R-Merritt Island) think a statewide drug-monitoring database is crucial to dealing with our notorious prescription drug epidemic.
But even as bills that aim to repeal the Drug Monitoring Program and replace it with harsher laws governing local pharmacies and a doctor’s ability to dispense drugs, the database is moving forward. Last Friday, a judge signed an order finalizing the Drug Monitoring Program appeal, which can now get off the ground.
“This gives the Department of Health the green light to move forward with a contract,” says Greg Giordano, chief legislative aide to state Sen. Mike Fasano, R-New Port Richey, a longtime proponent of the database. Giordano says the department “will start the contracting process” this week, “barring any further legal action.”
The bidding process over who would operate the database was a major point of contention for detractors of the program, and one of the initial problems that led to its attempted repeal. On Friday, Judge Robert Meale dismissed that bid protest, paving the way for Department of Health officials to move forward.
In a press release, Haridopolis thanked the Department of Health for the decision to begin operation of Florida’s program, which will be similar to databases in 30 other states. ”The database will provide ‘shock and awe’ in Florida’s efforts to end the criminal abuse of legal prescription drugs,” said 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.”
The Drug Monitoring Program was signed into law two years ago, by then-Gov. Charlie Crist. Scott announced his effort to repeal that law in February, and recently unveiled his own plan to combat Florida’s drug problem, a so-called “strike force” that would assist local law enforcement agencies by “providing intelligence and analytical and investigative support.”
Haridpolois says the Drug Monitoring Program will take it a step further. “The database will be an effective tool to help law enforcement. The illegal use of prescription drugs is a plight on our state and touches people from all walks of life. We will use the full resources of Florida to tackle this problem,” said Haridopolis, in his press release.
View the full Final Order here.