Attorney General Pam Bondi’s office will underwrite the state’s financially troubled prescription-drug database for the next four years after lawmakers failed to deal with the issue during the session that ended Friday.
Bondi announced Monday that her office will use $2 million from a settlement with Caremark to fund the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program.
The program, aimed at cracking down on “pill mills” and curbing doctor-shopping, requires pharmacists to enter pain-medication prescriptions into a database.
The Legislature authorized the program in 2011 but also prohibited any state money or money from drug companies from being used to operate the database, which costs about $500,000 a year to maintain.
Pharmacists had agreed this year to foot the bill for the database with money left over from licensure fees. Senate Health Policy Chairman Aaron Bean, R-Fernandina Beach, included the pharmacist-backed funding in a proposal that also addressed privacy concerns.
Last year, a Volusia County state attorney released the prescription drug histories of more than 3,300 people to defense attorneys as part of the discovery process following a federal drug sting.
The release of the records raised questions about whether the records of individuals who weren’t suspected of breaking the law should have been made public. Bean and others, including the American Civil Liberties Union, had wanted to require a court order before the records could be accessed, something opposed by prosecutors and sheriffs.
Later, Bean reached a compromise that would have required the state Department of Health, which oversees the database, to enter agreements with local law enforcement agencies but would not require court orders. The bill was folded into a health-care omnibus “train” that died on the last night of the 2014 session.