The new law requiring Florida practitioners to track dispensing of controlled
substances took effect on September 1st, 2011.
This law reflects the recent development of
legislation attempting to curtail Florida’s widely-known problem with controlled
substances. Florida will now join 35 other states which
already have fully operational and mostly successful PDMPs. Beginning in September, dispensing pharmacists will be
required weekly to send controlled substance dispensing information for schedule II, III, and IV
drugs to the state for input into the database. Sometime
in October, prescribers will be able to obtain access to a patient’s history of controlled
substance dispensing information, with the hopes of preventing future overprescribing and subsequent
abuse. It is important to realize, however, that
physicians are not required by law to use the database before prescribing.
Florida’s controlled substance abuse problem is no secret within the
medical community. As a primary example, Florida
physicians prescribe more than ten times the popularly abused drug oxycodone than every other state
in the nation combined. The creation of
this database aims to give prescribers access to a patient’s controlled substance dispensing
history and prevent overprescribing.
One of the primary concerns with this new legislation is privacy. The database by law will contain the full name, address, and
date of birth of the patient as well as the name, strength, and quantity of the controlled substance
The use of a statewide electronic database
filled with confidential dispensing and prescribing information could become a tempting target for
hackers, and this is not a baseless concern. It was
reported in May of 2009 that hackers had broken into Virginia’s prescription drug monitoring
database, encrypted the information and held more than 8 million patient records
“hostage” for a 10 million dollar ransom. Considering the magnitude of Florida’s controlled
substance use, one would expect the database to be even more expansive, and thus a security breach
could be catastrophic in regards to patient privacy and confidentiality.
Overall the success of this legislation will be dependent upon its utilization
by prescribers. As they are not by law required to use
the database, it remains to be seen whether or not the PDMP will have a real impact on controlled
substance abuse in Florida.
1. Palm Beach Post News Online. Law requiring Florida pharmacists to send drug information to
state starts today. Found at: http://www.palmbeachpost.com/news/state/law-requiring-florida-pharmacists-to-send-drug-information-1808851.html. Accessed 01 September 2011.
2. United States Department of Justice Drug
Enforcement Administration, Office of Diversion Control website. State Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs. Found at: http://www.deadiversion.usdoj.gov/faq/rx_monitor.htm. Accessed 01 September 2011.
3. NPR. The ‘Oxy Express’: Florida’s Drug Abuse Epidemic. Found at: http://www.npr.org/2011/03/02/134143813/the-oxy-express-floridas-drug-abuse-epidemic. Accessed 06 September 2011.
4. Online Sunshine, Official Internet Site
of the Florida Legislature. The 2011 Florida Statutes,
893.055 Prescription Drug Monitoring Program. Found
at: http://www.leg.state.fl.us/Statutes/index.cfm?App_mode=Display_Statute&Search_String=&URL=0800-0899/0893/Sections/0893.055.html. Accessed 01 September 2011.
5. The Washington Post. Hackers Break into Virginia Health Professions Database,
Demand Ransom. Found at: http://voices.washingtonpost.com/securityfix/2009/05/hackers_break_into_virginia_he.html. Accessed 06 September 2011.