Governor Crist is at it again, signing more healthcare legislation into law. This time, Crist signed into law a bill that will “establish a statewide, comprehensive electronic system to monitor the prescribing and dispensing of controlled substances” that should be complete by June 30, 2010 (SB 462). The bill further states, “[e]ach time a controlled substance…is dispensed to an individual, the controlled substance must be reported to the agency through the system as soon thereafter as possible, but not more than 15 days after the date the controlled substance is dispensed.” A knowing failure to comply results in a misdemeanor charge against the physician. This bill does not apply to all controlled substances, there are exceptions and exclusions. Florida is not the first state to enact a drug tracking database.
The purpose of this law is to prevent illegal drug trafficking and what has been known as “doctor shopping.” Doctor shopping occurs when individuals go from doctor to doctor trying to see which physician will prescribe addictive medications. Additionally, south Florida is known for selling narcotics en masse. According to Senator Aronberg, a Democrat from Greenacres, “the state has turned a blind eye to this…we’ve become the drug supplier for the rest of the country.”
There are advocates on both sides of this issue. One of the biggest concerns surrounding this law is privacy and whether or not patients’ privacy will be maintained and the consequences that flow from a database of people and the drugs they have been prescribed. Proponents of the law argue that this is a great tool for physicians in identifying potential drug addicts and doctor shoppers. Once identified, physicians can act and prescribe accordingly.
With the rise of prescription drug abuse and resulting deaths, this law is a step toward protecting addicts and soon-to-be addicts from acquiring additive narcotics. Though it may not be perfect, it is a place to start.
For more information, please call Abby Pendleton, Esq., Robert Iwrey, Esq., Adrienne Dresevic, Esq., Carey F. Kalmowitz, Esq. or Jessica L. Gustafson, Esq. at (248) 996-8510 or visit The HLP website.