New Florida Gov. Rick Scott wants to eliminate a computer system aimed at curbing the illegal sale of prescription drugs at storefront pain clinics, a move the Miami Herald says alarms narcotics investigators, drug-treatment advocates, and some legislators. Just two years ago, the legislature created a prescription drug monitoring program that would allow doctors to review drug purchases of their patients, to prevent patients from seeking narcotics from multiple doctors — a practice known as “doctor shopping.”
The legislature approved the measure in response to an explosion of storefront pain clinics across South Florida, making the region the main supplier of black-market pills across Appalachia and the East Coast. The governor wants to erase the database before it gets off the ground. The database costs nothing in the state budget. State officials must pay for the database with federal grants and private donations. The database is expected to cost about $1.2 million to assemble, and $500,000 a year to maintain. The governor also wants to eliminate the Office of Drug Control, the office charged with raising the private money for the database. Scott dismissed the head of that office, Bruce Grant, last month.