Thursday, March 4, 2010

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: GOVERNOR’S OFFICE

MARCH 4, 2010

CONTACT: GOVERNOR’S PRESS OFFICE, (850) 488-5394

Lt. Governor Kottkamp Joins Lawmakers to Announce Legislation to Continue Cracking Down on Pill Mills ~ Tighter restrictions, regulations for operating pain clinics ~

TALLAHASSEE – Lt. Governor Jeff Kottkamp, as part of his role overseeing the Governor’s Office of Drug Control, today held a press conference with bill sponsors Senator Mike Fasano and Representative Marcelo Llorente and Director Bruce Grant of the Governor’s Office of Drug Control to express his support of their proposed legislation that will help to eliminate criminal pain clinics, or “pill mills,” in Florida. Senator Fasano and Representative Llorente announced Senate Bills 1722 and 2272 and House Bill 1499 which build upon legislation Governor Crist signed last year legislation that created a Prescription Drug Monitoring Program and laid the groundwork for regulatory oversight of pain clinics.

“Florida’s pill mills are now the primary source of an unchecked flood of painkillers and anti-anxiety medications that fuel a large percentage of drug-related crime, addiction, hospitalizations, and overdoses in our state,” said Lt. Governor Kottkamp. “We must continue to investigate and close down illegal prescription drug distributors. With federal, state, and local governments collaborating as partners, Governor Crist and I are confident we can save lives and make Florida safer for our families and friends.”

“Florida’s aggressive response could not come sooner,” added Director Grant. “We must take action now with the help of law enforcement, regulation, and the passage of stronger legislation to eliminate these criminal pill mills throughout our state.”

The proposed legislation would mandate training for all physicians prescribing controlled substances, allow the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program to provide information to law enforcement on possible illegal medical practices, and prohibit felons and negligent physicians from owning pain management clinics. Additionally, the bills provide enhanced penalties for physicians operating outside the scope of accepted medical practice and strengthen the regulation of pain clinics.

“This legislation will significantly improve public health and safety by enhancing the state’s ability to shut-down these criminal pill mills and prosecute those who are breaking our laws and health regulations,” said Senator Fasano. “It is a great honor to work with Lt. Governor Kottkamp and Representative Llorente to fight predators who hide behind the guise of supposedly legal medical practices and prey upon our fellow Floridians.”

“This legislation goes one step forward in eradicating pill mills from Florida and the senseless loss of life being caused by the illegal prescribing and dispensing of controlled substances,” added Representative Llorente. “I am honored to continue to work with Lt. Governor Jeff Kottkamp and Senator Mike Fasano in protecting Floridians from the unscrupulous practices of some doctors, clinics, and healthcare facilities.”

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.

A recent Broward County grand jury reported 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.

State Surgeon General Dr. Ana Viamonte Ros, Secretary Tom Arnold of the Agency for Health Care Administration, Secretary Douglas Beach of the Florida Department of Elder Affairs, and Commissioner Gerald Bailey of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement also attended the announcement.

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