Saturday, April 21, 2018
Health

Drug abuse database keeps going with last-minute rescue

TALLAHASSEE — Even from his perch as Pasco County tax collector, Mike Fasano is still making his presence felt in the Capitol when it comes to his signature legislation, the state's prescription drug monitoring database.

When lawmakers ended their annual session Friday, they had not set aside any money for the program aimed at controlling prescription drug abuse. Fasano knew there was only enough money to operate the database through October.

"A $77 billion budget, and the governor and the Florida Legislature did not fund a program that is saving lives," he said of the database, which costs $500,000 a year to run.

Over the weekend, Fasano reached out to the project's highest-profile supporter in Tallahassee, Attorney General Pam Bondi.

Bondi announced Monday that she will use $2 million the state received as part of a 2008 national prescription drug fraud settlement with Caremark Rx to keep the database going for four more years.

"The Prescription Drug Monitoring Program is one important tool in the battle against prescription drug abuse, and by funding it for four years with this settlement money, we can ensure that it continues to be an effective tool," Bondi said in a news release.

She highlighted Florida's improving prescription drug abuse statistics, saying they are proof that the fledgling program is working: Drug-related deaths are decreasing, oxycodone deaths are way down, and the nation's largest pill mills are no longer found in Florida.

Still, the database is not a universally beloved program.

It was established under Gov. Charlie Crist in 2009, but the Republican-led Legislature would not give the voluntary program state tax dollars.

The database didn't launch until 2011. Then in 2013, the medication histories of 3,300 people were released as part of a fraud investigation in Volusia County, prompting concerns about privacy.

The Legislature did agree last year to a one-time $500,000 payment to fund the program. Senate Bill 862, which included changes to protect the confidentiality of patient information, would have provided another $500,000 allocation this year but failed to win passage.

Fasano worries there are too few advocates for the database.

"Other than the attorney general, now you have no one else that's advocating on behalf of the funding for a program that saves lives," he said.

Contact Tia Mitchell at (850) 224-7263 or [email protected]

Comments
Do not eat any romaine lettuce, the CDC warns

Do not eat any romaine lettuce, the CDC warns

Public health officials are now telling consumers to avoid all types of romaine lettuce because of an E. coli outbreak linked to the vegetable that has spread to at least 16 states and sickened at least 60 people, including eight inmates at an Alask...
Published: 04/20/18
Florida hits a milestone: More than 100,000 people are registered to use medical marijuana here

Florida hits a milestone: More than 100,000 people are registered to use medical marijuana here

Florida has hit a milestone of sorts as it slowly moves toward wider availability of medical marijuana.The number of patients in the state who are registered to use the substance has surpassed 100,000 for the first time, according to Florida Departme...
Published: 04/20/18
Florida Hospital Carrollwood spending $17.5 million to expand emergency department

Florida Hospital Carrollwood spending $17.5 million to expand emergency department

Florida Hospital Carrollwood is expanding its emergency department. The hospital, 7171 North Dale Mabry Highway in Tampa, is spending $17.5 million to add 15 new private treatment rooms, new pediatric rooms and waiting areas, and new technology, acco...
Published: 04/18/18
Barbara Bush’s end-of-life decision stirs debate over ‘comfort care’

Barbara Bush’s end-of-life decision stirs debate over ‘comfort care’

As she nears death at age 92, former first lady Barbara Bush’s announcement that she is seeking "comfort care" is shining a light — and stirring debate — on what it means to stop trying to fight terminal illness.Bush, the wife of former President Geo...
Published: 04/17/18
Preparing for the worst, staffers at Johns Hopkins All Children’s learn through simulation

Preparing for the worst, staffers at Johns Hopkins All Children’s learn through simulation

When the patient got violent, Dr. Michelle Hidalgo didn’t have time to think. She had to react. The woman was moving strangely and seemed erratic. Hidalgo had to make a tough call — it was time to physically restrain her for everyone’s safety.Then th...
Published: 04/16/18
Updated: 04/17/18

Lung cancer patients live longer with immune therapy

The odds of survival can greatly improve for people with the most common type of lung cancer if, along with the usual chemotherapy, they are also given a drug that activates the immune system, a major new study has shown.The findings should change me...
Published: 04/16/18
Thousands of pounds of prepackaged salad mixes may have been tainted with E. coli, officials say

Thousands of pounds of prepackaged salad mixes may have been tainted with E. coli, officials say

A Pennsylvania food manufacturer is recalling 8, 757 pounds of ready-to-eat salad products following an E. coli outbreak that has spread to several states and sickened dozens of people.Fresh food Manufacturing Co., based in Freedom, Pennsylvania, is ...
Published: 04/15/18
St. Anthony’s Cancer Center installs bell dedicated to survivors

St. Anthony’s Cancer Center installs bell dedicated to survivors

ST. PETERSBURGSister Mary McNally, vice president of mission at St. Anthony’s Hospital, stood in front of a room of cancer survivors to unveil a silver bell surrounded by butterfly stickers mounted to the wall of the Cancer Center lobby. "So often pe...
Published: 04/13/18
Hand dryers could leave your hands dirtier than you think

Hand dryers could leave your hands dirtier than you think

Washing your hands after you use the bathroom is a good idea. But using a public dryer could undo all that hard work, according to a new study.A study, published in the journal Applied and Environmental Microbiology, examined 36 men’s and women’s bat...
Published: 04/13/18
Meek and Mighty Triathlon draws the young (siblings who are 7, 9 and 11) and not so young

Meek and Mighty Triathlon draws the young (siblings who are 7, 9 and 11) and not so young

The annual St. Anthony’s Triathlon has for years attracted elite athletes from around the world, making the St. Petersburg race one of the premier triathlon events in the country. There’s a big incentive to run fast, swim hard and be the best on a bi...
Published: 04/13/18