TALLAHASSEE — Attorney General Pam Bondi wants to head off what she views as a growing consequence of Florida's prescription drug crisis: babies born addicted to their mother's prescription drug of choice.
Bondi wants the Legislature to pass a bill that would create a statewide task force to investigate the issue, including how much it costs to care for babies with neonatal withdrawal syndrome, the long-term effects of neonatal withdrawal syndrome and strategies for preventing pregnant mothers from abusing prescription drugs.
At Tampa's St. Joseph's Hospital, about 15 to 20 percent of the babies born in the neonatal intensive care unit during the past year suffered from neonatal withdrawal syndrome, she said.
"We do not want this to become the next crack-baby epidemic," Bondi said at a news conference Wednesday. "And that's where we're headed in our country."
Sen. Joe Negron, R-Stuart, and Rep. Kelli Stargel, R-Lakeland, have sponsored SB 402 and HB 227, respectively.
The task force would consist of Bondi, Surgeon General Frank Farmer; Agency for Health Care Administration Secretary Elizabeth Dudek; Department of Children and Families Secretary David Wilkins; Florida Department of Law Enforcement Commissioner Gerald Bailey; representatives from the Florida Hospital Association and Florida Medical Association; a representative from a substance abuse recovery organization; and a legislator from each chamber.
Their work would start upon the bill becoming law, and findings would be released to the Legislature in January 2013.