Orange County's chief prosecutor and top law-enforcers have joined the growing list of people calling for the governor to reverse his plans to eliminate Florida's prescription drug database, which is touted as being one of the best tools in battling the state's drug epidemic.
On Wednesday, the governing board for the Metropolitan Bureau of Investigation — the multiagency task force that investigates drug and organized-crime cases throughout Orange and Osceola counties — announced a resolution they're sending to Tallahassee calling for support of Florida's stalled Prescription Drug Monitoring Program.
The PDMP was signed into legislation in 2009, but hasn't become operational because of a bid dispute.
Supporters of the PDMP, which would track certain types of prescriptions people receive, say the database will prevent doctor shopping and fraud.
Last month, Gov. Rick Scott stunned legislators and law-enforcers when he proposed eliminating the much-anticipated program.
"We must have this management program staffed and funded in order to save lives," Orange-Osceola State Attorney Lawson Lamar said Wednesday.
Lamar called the prescription drug epidemic "a scourge upon our state," and said the purpose of the resolution is to try to get the Scott to change his mind about the PDMP.
"I wish he would stop and think," Lamar said.
The resolution, signed by Lamar, MBI Director Phil Williams, two sheriffs and five police chiefs, said that local law enforcement agencies "strongly oppose" any effort to repeal the PDMP.
The resolution points to the rising death toll caused by prescription drug overdoses, and statistics from the Drug Enforcement Agency: 92 of the top 100 oxycodone prescribers are in Florida. And Florida doctors prescribe 89 percent more oxycodone than doctors in the other 49 states combined.
Thirty-four states already have a prescription drug monitoring program, and several others have legislation establishing such a database, though not yet operational. Florida is the largest state without a PDMP.
Scott's office has said he wants to scrap the database because there isn't enough funding for it, it won't succeed in beating pill mills, and he doesn't think it's the state's responsibility.
When asked if the governor has specific examples of things he liked to see enacted to combat Florida's prescription drug abuse problems, his staff recently told the Orlando Sentinel:
"The Governor supports aggressive enforcement of existing laws, along with tighter inventory controls and stiffer penalties for pill makers, pharmacists and doctors who fail to adhere to the law."
MBI agents devote a significant amount of resources investigating rogue doctors and dealers who sell the prescription drugs. They've arrested several doctors in Orange County over the last year, each accused of running a pill mill.
Williams said Wednesday that the state can't arrest its way out of the prescription drug epidemic.
And while the PDMP is not a cure-all, Williams said, it's a tool.
"Why not have this tool to use?" he asked.
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