Despite State Efforts, Prescription-Drug Problem Grows Worse


The prescription-drug problem continues to escalate nationally, despite prescription drug monitoring programs already running in 33 states, says Meanwhile, nine other states have passed legislation to establish such programs, but because of budget problems, they can't find the money to get them started, says the National Alliance for Model State Drug Laws. Florida, which has a county some call the “painkiller capital of the nation,” may provide the most acute example of the challenges states face. It took three tries, but last fall the state legislature finally passed a bill establishing a monitoring program to start operating this December. The $1 million to get the program up and running, however, is not in the budget.

Paul Sloan of the Florida Society of Pain Management Providers lobbied hard for the bill, but is disappointed with the result. Apart from the lack of money, he argues that the “interventionist” side of the pain management industry – the side that treats pain with techniques like acupuncture – crowded the bill withspecial-interests provision. These include requiring new doctors that prescribe pain medication to be certified in pain management. Sloan says Florida has only seven facilities that can offer doctors this certification. “There are only 250 board-certified doctors and we have 18 million people,” he says, adding that more than half of the state's population visits doctors every year for pain problems. “This is not a state where 250 doctors can prescribe that.”

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