Editorial: House should save drug database

Published May 2, 2013

There is more than one way for legislators to kill a state program they don't like. One way is to quietly starve it to death. That could happen to Florida's prescription drug monitoring database unless the House takes action today, the last day of the regular session.

The database, created in 2011, is critical to fighting prescription drug abuse and now relies primarily on private grants to keep operating. The money is nearly gone. A bill passed unanimously by the Senate, SB 1192, would lift the ban on accepting money from pharmaceutical companies to pay for the database. It also would require doctors at pain management clinics to consult the database on the first visit of a new patient. Those are reasonable changes, and House Speaker Will Weatherford should bring the Senate bill up for a vote today so the database can be preserved.

Florida cannot let up in its effort to fight prescription drug abuse that fuels a cycle of crime and family dysfunction. It has been a point of emphasis for Attorney General Pam Bondi and local law enforcement officials, and the database is a crucial tool in that effort. To effectively kill the database by letting it go broke would be foolish.

Rep. Mike Fasano, R-New Port Richey, has been a strong supporter of the database and sponsored the House version of the bill. He asked Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel, on Thursday to bring one of the bills up for a vote today. Would Weatherford ignore his Pasco County colleague just because Fasano supports accepting the Medicaid expansion money that Weatherford opposes?