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The rise and fall of Florida's drug monitoring

Sept. 2001: Florida's medical examiners say overdose deaths from prescription painkillers oxycodone and hydrocodone went up nearly 60 percent in the first half of the year.

Dec. 2001: At a statewide conference on drug abuse, Gov. Jeb Bush unveils legislation to establish a prescription drug database to stop the misuse of narcotics.

Jan. 2002: Bush's daughter, 24-year-old Noelle Bush, is arrested on charges of trying to fraudulently obtain Xanax, a frequently abused antianxiety drug.

March 2002: Bills to create the monitoring system die in the Legislature. An average of two Floridians will die of prescription drug abuse every day in 2002.

Nov. 2002: OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma agrees to provide $2 million to develop Florida's drug monitoring system. The offer ends a state investigation into its aggressive marketing tactics.

May 2003: Bills to create the monitoring system die in the Legislature. An average of three Floridians will die of prescription drug abuse every day in 2003.

October 2003: Radio talk-show host Rush Limbaugh, left, acknowledges he's addicted to painkillers. Investigators say he received more than 2,000 pills at a pharmacy near his Palm Beach mansion.

May 2004: Bills to create the monitoring system die in the Legislature. An average of four Floridians a day will die from prescription drug overdoses in 2004.

May 2005: Bills to create the monitoring system are given no chance, so the lead sponsor doesn't even file. Four Floridians a day will die from prescription drug overdoses in 2005.

Dec. 2005: James Dungy, 18, the son of former Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Tony Dungy, hangs himself in his Lutz apartment. Weeks earlier, he called 911 after taking about 15 pills, including the painkiller hydrocodone.

May 2006: Bills to create the monitoring system die in the Legislature. An average of five Floridians a day will die from prescription drug overdoses in 2006.

Sept. 2006: Pinellas County sheriff's deputies arrest a physician's assistant at the Doctors Urgent Care Clinic in St. Petersburg after linking prescriptions for painkillers to the death of a 33-year-old man.

Feb. 2007: Anna Nicole Smith, left, dies of a prescription drug overdose at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel in Florida, an incident many say focused new attention on the crisis.

May 2007: Bills to create the monitoring system die in the Legislature. Five Floridians a day will die from prescription drug overdoses in 2007.

July 2007: At the sentencing hearing before a federal judge in Virginia for three top executives of Purdue Pharma, Julie Rinaldi of New Tampa speaks of her daughter, Sarah, 17, who overdosed on OxyContin and other drugs. "I'm just here as a mom, a mom that will never be called Grandma," Rinaldi said. The executives pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of misbranding a drug. None received jail time.

Dec. 2007: In a visit to a Tampa drug treatment center, U.S. drug czar John Walters points to studies showing that one in eight young adults in Florida abuses prescription drugs. He says the state needs a database.

April 2008: Walgreen's removes the painkiller OxyContin from some area pharmacies and staffs others with armed police officers after at least six local drugstores were robbed for prescription painkillers.

May 2008: Bills to create the monitoring system die in the Legislature. Six Floridians a day will die from prescription drug overdoses in 2008.

April 2009: The Florida Legislature approves a statewide monitoring system to track prescription drugs but refuses to allocate state money to run it. Seven Floridians will die of prescription drug overdoses each day in 2009.

Aug. 2009: Authorities in Pinellas County arrest 21 suspects in an oxycodone drug ring that made $300,000 in less than a year.

Oct. 2009: Nearly 300 people attend a candlelight vigil in Largo Central Park organized by parents who lost children to prescription drugs.

July 2010: The Florida Department of Health awards the contract for the drug monitoring system but the losing bidder protests, stalling implementation. It loses again in December, and stops the process with another protest.

Dec. 2010: Tampa police arrest Dr. Kimberly Daffern, left, a pain clinic physician accused of prescribing more than 1 million oxycodone pills over three months.

Dec. 2010: Gov.-elect Rick Scott announces he will close the Office of Drug Control, the lead agency raising money for the monitoring system.

Feb. 2011: Scott announces his 800-page budget proposal, which would repeal the drug monitoring system.

March 2011: The House proposes repealing the monitoring system, but the Senate vows to block the effort.

March 8: A judge awards the contract for the database, which Attorney General Pam Bondi says "can be an important part of the fight against pill mills.'' The state Health Department, which would run the database, says it will review the ruling to figure out how to proceed.

Compiled by Letitia Stein and Meg Laughlin from state records and Times files

The rise and fall of Florida's drug monitoring 03/11/11 [Last modified: Saturday, March 12, 2011 7:18pm]
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