Florida is slow to close valves on ‘pill pipeline’

The “pill pipeline” from Florida to Central Appalachia and other regions has not been closed despite the passage of laws in Florida to tighten controls on prescription painkillers, Bill Estep reports for the Lexington Herald-Leader. (Herald-Leader photo: Pain clinic in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.)

“The prescription-monitoring system it mandated might not be in place for months, and there are concerns about continued funding for the program when it is up and running,” Estep writes, noting that many Kentuckians leave the state to get painkillers because it is one of the few states with a prescription-monitoring system. “The program, a national model, allows doctors to see whether a patient has been doctor shopping, or going to multiple physicians to get prescriptions for drugs. Police also use the system to investigate whether legal drugs are being sold illegally.”

Florida passed a law in April 2009 to set up a monitoring system, but setting it up “took many months,” Estep reports. A contractor was chosen Dec. 21 but the losing bidder plans to appeal and Florida officials don’t expect the system to be operating until June. And after a federal grant runs out, it may not have enough money to operate because of state budget problems. (Read more)

This item is also posted on The Rural Blog, a daily digest of events, trends, issues, ideas and journalism from and about rural America, published by the Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues, at http://irjci.blogspot.com.

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