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Florida database to track prescription drugs moves closer to reality

TALLAHASSEE — An effort to curb prescription drug abuse and stop South Florida's growing pain-clinic industry is headed to the House and Senate floors, after the proposal cleared a key House committee Monday.

Legislators on the House General Government and Health Care Appropriations Council signed off on a bill to create a prescription-drug tracking database, a system that would allow doctors — and, in some cases, police — to monitor the prescription history of those receiving addictive drugs.

A similar bill by Sen. Mike Fasano, R-New Port Richey, passed its final Senate committee stop last week, and the bill is poised to receive a vote in both chambers before the end of the legislative session.

"We have an epidemic in the state of Florida," said Rep. Kelly Skidmore, a Boca Raton Democrat, who is pushing the House proposal along with Reps. Marcelo Llorente, R-Miami, and Kurt Kelly, R-Ocala. "We are absolutely the pill mill for the rest of the country. … This bill solves that problem."

Thirty-eight states have prescription-drug tracking systems, but privacy worries have stalled efforts in Tallahassee, making Florida the largest state without one. Investigators say that has helped make the state a prime destination for pill addicts and drug dealers from around the country.

The scope of the problem has given the drug monitoring system added momentum this year, and the bill has cleared most of its committees with little debate.

Breanne Gilpatrick can be reached at bgilpatrick@miamiherald.com.

Florida database to track prescription drugs moves closer to reality 04/20/09 [Last modified: Tuesday, April 21, 2009 1:14pm]
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