Supporters of Florida's long-stalled Prescription Drug Monitoring System are cheering the news that Florida Surgeon General Dr. H. Frank Farmer Jr. plans to award a contract that will bring the program into existence in 90 days.
Fla. set to award drug-monitoring contract
The system was approved by state lawmakers in 2009, but the Health Department has been unable to award the contract for it because of a protest from the losing party in the competitive-bidding process. Last month, Florida Administrative Law Judge Robert Meale issued a 72-page opinion finding that the Health Department did not exercise bias in awarding the contract to Health Information Designs, Auburn, Ala., and on April 8, Farmer accepted the opinion.
Florida has a reputation as a major source of prescription drugs sold on the black market for recreational use. The monitoring system will be used to track prescriptions of often-abused drugs such as OxyContin, find high-quantity prescribers and prevent “doctor shopping” by users.
Attorney General Pam Bondi said in a statement that stopping the so-called “pill mills” has been her top priority in office, calling the program an important tool in preventing prescription-drug abuse. Gov. Rick Scott opposes the program’s creation, and recommended not funding it in the next fiscal year, though the state budget process is ongoing.
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