With five months until a national drug policy rollout, the Obama administration’s drug czar visited a Tampa treatment facility yesterday to discuss the rising tide of prescription drug abuse, reports the St. Petersburg Times. Gil Kerlikowske said 38 states have some version of Florida’s new Prescription Drug Monitoring Law, which will put prescriptions into digital database, making it possible for doctors to identify doctor shoppers and spot doctors who overprescribe narcotics.
“It takes hard work and money to make programs like this work,” he said. “But if you compare what it costs to run one of these programs vs. what is already spent on health care related to prescription drug abuse, the benefits are evident.” Tampa was one of the early stops in an 18-city listening tour, said a spokesman. (The drug czar’s office previously had announced a 7-city tour.) He toured the DACCO Center for Behavioral Health, a drug treatment, prevention and intervention facility in Tampa. Prescription drug abusers account for 60 to 66 percent of DACCO’s methadone clinic patients. Kerlikowske said the information he received at DACCO will be included in a wider national approach to combating drug abuse. “It’s not just about protecting the shores  or domestic enforcement,” he said. “It’s about looking at the problem holistically.”