Florida Cracks Down On Doctor Shopping

After failing to enact legislation for many years, Florida will finally require pain practitioners to register with the state by early January.

Part of the new law requires the Department of Health (DOH) to establish a monitoring database. It gives pharmacies 15 days to report in after dispensing a prescription narcotic.

The goal is to prevent “doctor shopping” by monitoring the prescribing and dispensing of controlled drugs, making it difficult for addicts to collect large quantities of pills, and allowing doctors, pharmacists, and even law enforcement to identify those who are “doctor shopping” for prescription pills.

Some legislators were concerned about privacy issues that we were forming a “Big Brother” to monitor citizens in the state. One legislator even suggested a fingerprint be used to track prescriptions rather than a name.

Florida will become the 39th state to establish a state-run prescription drug database. Doctor shopping is reported to be a cottage industry in Florida even drawing people from nearby states to look for easy access to prescription pills. Broward County is known as the nation’s capital of illegal prescription drug trafficking with 100 storefront pain clinics and Florida leads in oxycodone sales, mainly due to the clinics, according to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.

The South Florida Sun Sentinel wrote last March that among 100 pain clinics, 18 who had doctors who had been disciplined by the state for professional violations or convicted of crimes. The law will require that that the prescribing physicians actually be present on the premises of the pain clinic.

The Miami Herald reports that as deaths from prescription drugs rise, deaths from illegal drugs such as cocaine wane.

There were nearly 1,000 deaths from oxycodone in Florida last year. 8,620 drug-related deaths occurred in Florida, 3,159 from prescription drugs such as Xanax and Valium in 2007. And that doesn’t include the innocent people on the side of the road, victims of a driver on prescription drugs.

A state medical examiner’s office report released in July, finds 75 percent of drugs involved in overdose last year involved prescription drugs.

The database should be established by December 2010 to prevent doctor shopping for addictive medications.

Source article: http://www2.tbo.com/content/2009/jul/29/panel-decide-how-fla-pain-clinics-can-operate/news-breaking/