Behind the Debate Over Florida’s Missing Prescription-Drug Database


Not long after Anna Nicole Smith’s 2007 death in a Florida hotel room, authorities declared legal narcotics were killing three times as many people as street drugs in Florida. Those events combined to give the Sunshine State an embarrassing new nickname: Pill Mill Capital of the nation, says the St. Petersburg Times. It wasn’t until 2009, after seven deadly years of political stalemate, that lawmakers approved a database to thwart drug-seekers who go from doctor to doctor, and pharmacy to pharmacy, filling multiple prescriptions for powerful narcotics.

The database still doesn’t exist. Florida’s Prescription Drug Monitoring Program is the subject of a battle that pits Republicans against Republicans, politicians against major campaign contributors, and at least one legislator against his own vote. As Gov. Rick Scott and opponents work to kill the program, an unlikely coalition of pain clinic doctors, police officers, and grieving mothers are united in distress. Politicians from New York to Kentucky are begging the state to stop the drug pipeline that sends deadly narcotics across their borders. Even the nation’s drug czar recently implored Florida to enact the monitoring system.

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