Florida Lifts Prescription Drug State of Emergency

via Florida Tribune 8-29-11

Just days before a new drug database is set to start operation, the state of Florida announced that it was lifting the statewide public health emergency it declared due to Florida’s prescription drug crisis.

State officials first declared the emergency back in early July and then swept through clinics across the state for inspections that yielded in the seizure of hundreds of thousands of prescription drugs.

“While the statewide public health declaration may no longer be in effect, the efforts of the Florida Department of Health, law enforcement partners and other state agencies remain strong,” said Gov. Rick Scott in a statement.

Scott had set up a task force to go after pain clinics back in March. Scott initially was opposed to keeping intact the proposed drug database – which is meant to track prescriptions issued by doctors for drugs such as OxyContin, Valium and Xanax.

But Scott, lawmakers and Attorney General Pam Bondi reached a compromise that kept the database which is scheduled to become operational this Thursday. A bill passed this past session also requires physicians to submit their prescription information within seven days.

Dr. Frank Farmer, the Department of Health secretary, also announced along with lifting the state of emergency he was also lifting a moratorium on a part of HB 7095 that had been put on hold.

Two months ago Farmer put on hold a requirement that as many as 50,000 Florida-licensed physicians use counterfeit-resistant prescription pads. The move was taken in the wake of phone calls from patients and doctors saying that pharmacies around the state had begun to refuse to fill prescriptions for controlled substances because the prescriptions were not written on the approved pads.

“Allowing the practitioners who are approved to prescribe controlled substances more time to order the prescription pads was necessary to ensure public safety over the long term,” Farmer said. “Now is the time to start using them.”

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