TALLAHASSEE -- At the 11th hour, lawmakers voted to fund the state prescription drug monitoring program for one year.
Heading into the final day, there was no funding in the state budget for the drug database, which law enforcement has said is an essential tool in fighting the war on prescription drug abuse. And legislation to lift a ban on pharmaceutical company donations failed.
The funding provision got tacked onto a massive health bill that included provisions on nursing home beds, trauma center deregulation and 10 neonatal beds for Miami Children's Hospital. The bill, the penultimate piece of legislation heard during the 2013 session, passed by a 37-2 vote.
Up until now, the database has run largely on donations and federal grants.
And without state funding, the state would have had to come up with potentially half of the money needed to run the database for the next year. The state had already procured a $243,000 grant to help run the database.
State Rep. Mike Fasano, R-New Port Richey, sent a public letter to House Speaker Will Weatherford yesterday to ask him to fund the database. Fasano sponsored the bill creating the legislation and sits on the PDMP Foundation board.
"Since the primary grants to start up and expand the database have been exhausted, the database relies almost solely on donations to continue its operation," Fasano wrote. "I have great fears that if we don’t take action this session, the future of the database will be in jeopardy."
The bill requires the Department of Health to put $500,000 of its general budget toward running the database.
Fasano's office released a statement immediately following the vote.
“I applaud my colleagues for their willingness to ensure that the important database will continue to operate, thus ensuring that lives will be saved, doctor shoppers and drug diverters will be identified,” Fasano said. “This may be one of the most important pieces of legislation that we have passed this year.”
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