Funding for Florida Prescription Drug Abuse Database in Jeopardy

By N. Ryan LaBar | Criminal Defense Attorney
Published: 2012

Florida's Prescription Drug Monitoring Program, which is aimed at reversing Florida's reputation as the nation's "pill mill capital," is in jeopardy due to funding concerns.

The program, known as "Electronic - Florida Online Reporting of Controlled Substances Evaluation", mandates that Florida pharmacists enter into a database the names of both the doctors who prescribe and the patients who buy certain classes of painkillers. The database is used by law enforcement to catch doctors who sell high-powered painkillers like oxycodone to addicts and drug dealers. It is also used to track patients who might jump from doctor to doctor to obtain more pills, a process known as "physician-shopping."

The database was a response to drug dealers and abusers flocking into the state to make large purchases, often at illicit pain clinics, as well a pervasive problem of painkiller addiction within the state. In Florida, an average of seven people die each day from painkiller abuse.

The Florida legislature created E-FORCSE in 2009, but it wasn't really enforced until 2011 when new Attorney General Pam Bondi took office. The program, along with new laws that crack down on prescription pill abuse, has proven successful in the year since it has been effectively enforced.

According to the federal Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), sales of oxycodone in Florida fell 20 percent from 2010 to 2011. Further, while in 90 of the top oxycodone-buying doctors in 2010 were from Florida, by 2011 the number had dropped to 13. Overall, Florida physicians bought 97 percent less oxycodone in 2011 than they did in 2010.

E-FORCSE was a controversial program from the beginning, and threats by Governor Rick Scott and members of the Florida House of Representatives to repeal it resulted in a compromise that banned the use of state funds or money from pharmaceutical companies to finance the database. Therefore, the database was funded by grants and donations, which have been hard to come by.

The initial funding for E-FORCSE, which costs approximately $500,000 a year, has run out and back-up funding will only cover the costs of the program until June 30, 2013. Purdue Pharma, a manufacturer of the OxyContin brand of oxycodone, is offering a donation of $1 million dollars to fund the database. That amount would cover E-FORCSE's costs for two years, but unless the ban on pharmaceutical contributions is lifted, the state cannot accept the money.

Under Florida law, possession of oxycodone without a valid prescription is a felony. If you have been charged with selling prescription drugs or possessing them without a valid prescription, it is advisable to seek out the advice of an experienced drug charges defense attorney. An attorney can assess your case to determine if your Constitutional rights have been violated and can also help you navigate the court system to determine what your best options are. Call us today at at 1-866-680-4LAW or fill out our online form located at the top of the page and we will contact you shortly


Orlando Criminal Defense Attorney N. Ryan LaBar






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