Monday, January 18, 2010

Press Release: Governor's Office

Lt. Governor Kottkamp Convenes First Meeting of Statewide Prescription Drug Task Force ~ Will explore strategies for protecting citizens from the illegal diversion of prescription drugs ~

TALLAHASSEE – Lt. Governor Jeff Kottkamp, in his role overseeing the Governor’s Office of Drug Control, today convened the first meeting of the Statewide Prescription Drug Task Force. The purpose of the task force is to explore strategies for protecting citizens from the illegal diversion of prescription drugs.

“Too many Floridians have lost their lives because of prescription drug abuse,” said Lt. Governor Kottkamp. “We must take action at all levels to eliminate criminal pill mill enterprises throughout Florida, and protect the quality of life that we hold so dear in the Sunshine State. Florida’s future depends on it.”

The interagency Statewide Prescription Drug Task Force is made up of local, state, and federal law enforcement officials, state agencies, and health care agencies. They have partnered to combine their resources and develop a coordinated plan of action to crack down on pain clinics operating as “pill mills” throughout Florida.

According to the Governor’s Office of Drug Control, six Floridians die each day from a prescription drug overdose – five times as many deaths as from all illegal drugs combined. The number of drug overdose deaths in Florida increased by 77 percent from 2003 to 2008, and each one involved at least one prescription drug. Often the illegal prescription drug of choice is oxycodone, a very strong narcotic commonly prescribed to relieve moderate to severe pain. Nearly all of the top 50 prescribers of oxycodone in the United States are located in Florida.

Florida’s pain clinics, or “pill mills,” are the primary source of the unchecked flood of painkillers and anti-anxiety medications that fuel a large percentage of drug-related crime, addiction, hospitalizations and overdoses. These locations can also be doctors’ offices, clinics, or health care facilities that routinely conspire in prescribing and dispensing controlled substances outside the scope of standard medical practice, or otherwise violate prescription-drug laws.

According to a recent Broward County grand jury report, every three days, a new “pill mill” opens in Broward and Palm Beach counties. In the last six months of 2008 alone, such clinics dispensed nearly 9 million doses of oxycodone in South Florida – the equivalent of more than two doses for every man, woman and child in Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties.
To stem this problem and safeguard Florida’s future health and safety, Governor Crist signed legislation last year creating the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program. This legislation lays the groundwork for regulatory oversight of pain clinics.

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