Drug Deaths Down

Not long ago Florida was known as the Pill Mill Capitol of the World. Drug dealers from across the Southeast would drive to Florida to score piles of pills.

Now the state is on the fast track to shed the title. A new Center for Disease Control study shows drug deaths nationwide up three percent, but in Florida drug deaths are down.

A fact Governor Rick Scott is boasting about. “We have had a dramatic impact by arresting individuals involved in the illegal selling of legal drugs,” said Scott.

Scott and Attorney General Pam Bondi created the Statewide Drug Enforcement Strike Force in 2011.

Since then more than 4,000 people have been arrested in connection to pill mills, 73 were doctors. The strike force has seized more than 850,000 pills and shutdown 250 clinics.

“We still have a long way to go. We still have a lot of people who are addicted to these narcotics,” said Rep. Mike Fasano.

Representative Mike Fasano left his mark on Florida’s pill mill war. As a state senator, Fasano passed legislation creating a prescription drug monitoring database.

“Every pharmacist in the state has to use it when they add the information to that database,” said Fasano, but getting doctors to use the database has proven challenging. Less than 2% right now in Florida are actually logging on and checking out their patients. There’s legislation that is moving in the House that would change that.

“We have a piece of legislation that would require every doctor that writes out a narcotic prescription to use that prescription drug monitoring program. The bill only has one more committee before it goes to the floor,” said Fasano.

As the state continues its war on pills, people in legitimate pain say they’re being treated like criminals. Some say they can’t get the medication they need, and we asked Governor Rick Scott about those folks who say they’re being lumped in with drug dealers and addicts. Scott says he’s open to listening to their concerns.