An administrative law judge yesterday issued a proposed recommended order (.pdf) giving the Department of Health permission to dismiss Optimum’s Technology Inc.’s protest of a Prescription Drug Monitoring Database contract.

The drug monitoring program was signed into law by former Gov. Charlie Crist on June 18, 2009, but was held up due to legal issues with the state’s Drug Monitoring Program contract.

Though the agreement to run the drug-monitoring database and system was initially awarded to awarded to Alabama-based Health Information Design, Optimum filed a formal protest (.pdf) saying the company’s bid was awarded arbitrarily. Optimum argued that it had submitted a “better price and value” than Heath Information Design and lost the contract due to a biased member of the evaluating team.

According to Greg Giordano, executive legislative assistant to state Sen. Mike Fasano, R-New Port Richey, today’s decision gives the Department of Health permission to dismiss Optimum’s protest, thus paving the way for the agency to move ahead with its contract for the Drug Monitoring Program.

Gov. Rick Scott has come under fire recently for his  proposal to eliminate the program entirely. In a Health and Human Services Committee hearing this Thursday, state Rep. Rob Schenck, R-Spring Hill, is expected to present his proposal to repeal the Drug Monitoring Program, and will reportedly introduce a bill on Wednesday offering what he says is an alternative. The bill will take away the ability of Florida doctors to dispense medications from their offices.

“If he in fact is heading this way, as the preliminary drafts of his bills appears to indicate, then the work Sen. Fasano has done since 2003 will be undone,” Giordano writes in an email to The Florida Independent. But even if the bill passes in the state House, it faces an uphill battle in the other chamber of the legislature, where Senate President Mike Haridopolos, R-Merritt Island, has pledged to find funding for the Drug Monitoring Program.

“I don’t expect it will get a warm reception if or when it comes over to the Senate,” Giordano writes.

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