Drug Czar Clashes With Rick Scott Over Scrapped Prescription Drug Monitoring Plan

A hero to the pharmaceutical industry?
A hero to the pharmaceutical industry?

You've got to hand it to a federal drug enforcement official who actually travels around and talks to people instead of just sitting in an office thinking up ways to scare dope-smoking high-schoolers. U.S. Drug Czar Gil Kerlikowske recently took a trip to Appalachia, where prescription-painkiller abuse is rampant. And guess where the folks there got their pills?

Kerlikowske asked the women how many of them had been to Florida to get their drugs. "Thirteen of the 14 raised their hand," Kerlikowske said.

He cited this sad yet predictable tableau during a conversation with the Orlando Sentinel, discussing his reaction to Gov. Rick Scott's 
recent decision to scrap plans for a government-mandated prescription-monitoring program (PDMP). That computer-based program would have kept track of a patient's prescriptions among various clinics and made it easier to prevent the "doctor-shopping" that lands addicts and Appalachian grandmas hundreds of potentially lethal pills.

"Yes. Absolutely," said Kerlikowske when asked if the PDMP should go into effect. "We don't claim... it's an end-all and be-all to the prescription drug problem... The PDMPs are a good start."

Asked whether he had attempted to get Scott to change his mind, Kerlikowske said he had sent a letter to Scott's office asking to discuss the prescription-drug problem in more detail and offering his office's assistance to Florida's efforts, but he never heard back from the governor.

Defending his decision to halt plans for a PDMP, Scott recently said he thought it was a task better suited to the private sector.

Follow The Juice on Twitter: @TheJuiceBPB.

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