Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

House lawmaker rewrites prescription drug bill to embrace database, increased penalties

TALLAHASSEE — Facing backlash from small pharmacy operators and supporters of a prescription drug monitoring database, Rep. Rob Schenck, R-Spring Hill, on Tuesday unveiled a significant rewrite of his proposal to combat the state's prescription drug abuse epidemic.

His rework of HB 7095 now includes increased penalties for people who prescribe powerful narcotics like OxyContin, Xanax and Vicodin and tools for law enforcement to pursue unscrupulous pain clinic operators, legislation sought by Attorney General Pam Bondi.

Schenck also scaled back a proposal to prohibit small or new pharmacies from dispensing narcotics, and dropped his proposal to eliminate the drug monitoring database. His new plan actually strengthens the database program by requiring data submission within seven days of filling a prescription instead of 15.

The bill also bans wholesale distributors from sending more than 5,000 units of certain drugs each month to retail pharmacies.

In the bill's first hearing at the House Appropriations Committee meeting Tuesday, Schenck still received criticism from retailers for his approach to curb the phenomenon that kills seven people a day in Florida.

"Are there some uncomfortable things in the bill that we may have to do to crack down on this epidemic? Yes," Schenck said. "But if we're not willing to do it for the seven to 10 people who die, who are we willing to do it for?"

A parade of small-town pharmacists — from Live Oak, Lake City, Greenville and elsewhere — testified in opposition to the bill, which only allows community pharmacies majority-owned by a licensed pharmacist, hospice, hospital or nursing home to dispense narcotics.

"You call this the pill mill bill. This is really an anti-small pharmacy bill," said pharmacist Linda Bizeck of Greenville. "It's pretty offensive."

Sally West of the Florida Retail Federation voiced concern with the 5,000-unit-per-month limit on drug distributors that supply pharmacies with drugs.

"Our larger stores would not be able to comply with that," West said.

She also objected to a provision that would make it a first-degree misdemeanor if a store did not obtain a copy of a fraudulent prescription.

But Schenck won accolades from Bondi, who testified in support of the new version of the bill at the committee hearing.

In an interview after the hearing, Bondi said she particularly appreciates that the new bill includes criminal penalties, eases restrictions on small pharmacies and restores the database.

Fighting the pill mills is a top priority for Bondi.

"I didn't realize what a challenge it would be to get tough legislation passed regarding pill mills," she said.

Gov. Rick Scott, who last month launched a statewide "strike force" to take a law enforcement approach to fighting the problem, also applauded Schenck's bill.

"By targeting criminals and the highest levels of the illegal prescription drug distribution chain, protecting law-abiding citizens and aiding law enforcement in the battle against this scourge, the House has brought forth a comprehensive strategy that is a real solution and will provide real results to Floridians," Scott said in a statement.

The committee passed the bill unanimously, 24-0. That's a marked improvement over the reception at its last committee stop, where it received six 'no' votes.

Janet Zink can be reached at or (850) 224-7263.

House lawmaker rewrites prescription drug bill to embrace database, increased penalties 04/12/11 [Last modified: Tuesday, April 12, 2011 10:38pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Update: Scientology cancels planned mock FBI raid on downtown building

    Special Topics

    CLEARWATER — The Church of Scientology planned to film a mock FBI raid on a downtown building Monday afternoon, but the actors and cameras never showed up.

    According to Clearwater Police, the Church of Scientology plans to hold a mock FBI raid at 3 p.m. Monday at this vacant building at 305 N Fort Harrison Ave. Police announced the raid in advance to alert the public. They said they did not know the reason for the event. [Google Earch image]
  2. Support for gay marriage surges, even among groups once wary

    Human Interest

    NEW YORK — In the two years since same-sex marriage was legalized nationwide, support for it has surged even among groups that recently were broadly opposed, according to a new national survey.

    People gather in Washington's Lafayette Park to see the White House lit up in rainbow colors on June 26, 2015, the day the Supreme Court ruled that same-sex marriage legal. In the two years since same-sex marriage was legalized nationwide, support for it has surged even among groups that recently were broadly opposed, according to a new national survey released on Monday, June 26, 2017. [Associated Press]
  3. Florida inspired new group focused on improving how elections are run


    A new group run by two lawyers and veteran Democratic operatives specializing in voter protection efforts is launching a pilot program in Florida, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania to work with local elections officials to improve the voting process. Access Democracy, run by …

    Access Democracy wants to improve voter participation and how elections are run
  4. Super Nintendo is coming back to stores, and there's even a new (old) game


    If the overwhelming success of last year's NES Classic is any indication, you may want to get your hands on Nintendo's newly-announced Super NES Classic as soon as it becomes available this fall.

    Super Nintendo plans to release the Super NES Classic Edition.
  5. Dave Andreychuk going into Hall of Fame (w/photo gallery)


    Dave Andreychuk said Monday began "business as usual."

    Dave Andreychuk captained the only Lightning team to win the Stanley Cup.