A bill aimed at combating
's pill-mill industry and the nation's
abuse problems was introduced in the House by a Sarasota congressman on Monday.
"The Pill Mill Crackdown Act of 2011" has a host of provisions, including toughening federal penalties for people who operate so-called pill mills — by doubling the prison sentence from 10 to 20 years, and tripling the fine from $1 million to $3 million.
"Something needs to be done," Rep.
, said Monday. "Florida seems to be spiraling out of control. We've been cited for being one of the worst states for prescription drug abuse. It's a very serious problem."
The bill, sponsored by U.S. Rep.
, a Republican from Sarasota, would also:
• Support state-based prescription drug monitoring programs. More than 30 states already have operating prescription drug monitoring programs. Florida is the largest state without such a database.
Though Florida legislators created a state PDMP in 2009, it was stalled by a bid dispute, and now Gov.
and other state leaders want to kill the database. Supporters of PDMPs say the databases are one of the best tools at preventing doctor shopping and prescription fraud. The databases track certain types of prescriptions, such as painkillers.
• Use money from seized illicit drug operations for drug treatment.
• Strengthen prescription standards for certain addictive pain drugs. The bill would reclassify
combination drugs, such as Vicodin and Lortab, to make them Schedule II drugs, making it more difficult to prescribe and obtain.
"Today, we take a crucial step toward putting these pill mills out of business," Buchanan said in a prepared statement. "Many of these so-called pain clinics are nothing more than illegal drug distribution networks that bring untold misery to our children, our families, and our communities."
A host of House leaders from Florida are co-sponsoring the legislation, including representatives Mica and Democrat
, a Senate panel on Monday passed a bill that would target offenses by pain clinic doctors. Among other things, the bill would make it a felony for them to skip performing a physical exam before prescribing pain pills, or to repeatedly sell more than the legal maximum of three days worth of pills. Doctors who break the rules would have their medical licenses suspended for at least six months and pay fines of at least $10,000.
The doctor crackdown was proposed from Attorney General
and included in SB 818 among other steps to clamp down on pill mills. The bill was passed by the Senate Health Care Regulation Committee and now goes to the Senate Criminal Justice Committee, said its sponsor, Sen.
, R-New Port Richey.
Also under the bill, Florida would share with other states details from the state's proposed computer system to track pain-pill prescriptions, so the state can qualify for federal matching grants.