The Florida Department of Health (DOH), the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, and Florida’s Regional Drug Enforcement Strike Forces are today visiting physicians’ offices across the state to ensure compliance with House Bill 7095, Florida’s new prescription drug law. The administrative inspections are being conducted pursuant to the declaration of a public health emergency on July 1.
Since the bill was signed into law on June 3, DOH has been actively notifying physicians no longer authorized to dispense selected controlled substances to dispose of their inventory. Physicians must return the drugs to wholesalers or turn them over to law enforcement for destruction before they become contraband on Aug. 1. The inspections are designed to remove the drugs quickly and safely and minimize the chance they will be dispensed into local communities.
During the inspections, the physician may: 1) surrender the substances for destruction; or 2) surrender them to law enforcement to be quarantined while the physician determines if they can be returned to the wholesaler; or 3) request that the substances be quarantined at the location of the clinic or practice. The role of the Strike Forces in the inspections is to safeguard and secure the drugs, either on-site or at a law enforcement agency. The drugs quarantined will either be destroyed or returned to wholesalers.
A total of 23 physicians in 24 locations statewide are being inspected, with the bulk of visits occurring in south Florida. The locations visited include general practitioners, anesthesiologists, and internists. The list of locations includes practitioners identified due to past purchasing and dispensing levels.
Today’s inspections are part of Florida’s comprehensive and multi-faceted plan to address an epidemic of prescription drug abuse. House Bill 7095 increases penalties for overprescribing Oxycodone and other controlled substances, requires tracking of the wholesale distribution of certain controlled substances and provides support for the continued efforts of state agencies, law enforcement and state prosecutors. The bill also bans doctors from dispensing selected controlled drugs except under specific circumstances. In March 2011, Governor Scott announced a Statewide Drug Strike Force, headed by FDLE Commissioner Gerald Bailey, to combat the criminal distribution of prescription drugs in Florida. With support from Attorney General Pam Bondi and state and local law enforcement leaders, the Strike Force is charged with stopping the flow of dangerous drugs into communities by disrupting the major illegal supply points.
On July 1, in accordance with House Bill 7095, State Surgeon General, Dr. Frank Farmer issued a statewide public health emergency declaration in response to the ongoing problem of prescription drug abuse and diversion in Florida. The declaration requires dispensing practitioners who are no longer authorized to dispense controlled substances in listed in Schedule II and Schedule III of Section 893.03, Florida Statutes, to dispose of any inventory and cooperate fully with DOH, FDLE and local law enforcement personnel. The declaration will remain in effect for 60 days unless amended or rescinded, or renewed with the concurrence of the Governor.