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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Bill to keep docs from dispensing narcotics, end pain clinic registration, passes House committee

10

March

After 90 minutes of testimony and debate a House committtee on Thursday passed a bill that would prohibit doctors from dispensing pain medications and end registration and inspections of pain clinics. The bill also would require wholesole distributors to report who is buying the drugs so law enforcement offficials can investigate unusually large purchases.

Bill sponsor Robert Schenck, a Republican from Spring Hill who introduced the committee bill, a top priority for House Speaker Dean Cannon, said it "cuts the head off the snake" of the state's prescription drug abuse problem by hitting suppliers.

"A lot of the regulations we have tried in the past have not worked and are killing businesses," Schenck said. Schenck said the regulations of pain clinics aren't necessary if they can't dispense the medications anymore.

Others, though, argued that many legitimate doctors dispense pain medications, and if the law passes it would hurt their businesses. Plus, some argued, there are rural areas where the number of pharmacies are limited and it's easier for patients to get medications from physicians. And finally, some said that bad doctors could still set up pharmacies or make arrangements with pharmacies so they could continue overprescribing.

Even those who voted in favor of the bill (the final count was 13-5, with Democrat Bernard Mack casting his vote with Republican committee members), acknowledged the bill has problems.

"This does represent an intrusion into the medical practice," said Paige Kreegel, a Republican from Punta Gorda. "This bill is far from perfect and it needs a lot of work. But I think it is a start."

[Last modified: Thursday, March 10, 2011 12:34pm]

    

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