On Monday, the newly reconstituted Statewide Drug Policy Advisory Council met for the first time in Tallahassee, to discuss Florida’s prescription drug crisis.

Among the Council’s members are state surgeon general Dr. Frank Farmer and the secretaries or directors (or their appointed representatives) of the Department of Corrections, the Department of Juvenile Justice, the Department of Law Enforcement, the Florida Highway Patrol, the Department of Military Affairs, the Agency for Health Care Administration, the Office of the Attorney General and the Executive Office of the Governor. State Sen. Mike Fasano, a member of a previous incarnation of the Council, was recently appointed by the Senate president to serve on the newly reformed group and was also present at yesterday’s meeting.

According to Fasano’s chief legislative aide, Greg Giordano, members were shown how Florida agencies on both the local and state level are working together to fight the war on drugs. The Council also voted unanimously to make the funding of the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program a priority, and to work toward adding additional dollars to the 2012-2013 state budget for drug treatment programs throughout Florida (a top priority of Fasano’s).

Giordano also relayed that the Council was given some very disturbing numbers regarding newborns experiencing drug withdrawal per 1000 live births in Florida:

“Counties with the highest rates of diagnoses of newborn withdrawal per 1000 live births include Pasco at 30.78, Charlotte 28.88, Hernando 26.88, Sarasota 26.41, Pinellas 18.20, Brevard 13.76, Lee 11.58, Volusia 9.60, Duval 9.00, Collier 8.71, Manatee 8.10, Escambia 6.91, Marion 6.81 and Clay 6.57,” says Giordano. “The statewide average was 6.33 in 2010. Senator Fasano was most disturbed that in 2005 the statewide average was 1.12. There has been a 433% increase in just over 6 years.”

The Council will meet again in December.

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