Monday, March 14, 2011

Buchanan's 'pill mill' bill wins bipartisan support

Backed by bipartisan coalition of co-sponsors, U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan today will formally introduce legislation he says is designed to fight prescription drug abuse and crack down on illegal "pill mills."

Among the co-sponsors are another dozen members of Congress from Florida -- the nation's top supplier of illegally prescribed and purchased prescription medications.

“Today, we take a crucial step toward putting these pill mills out of business,” Buchanan, R-Sarasota, said in a news release. “Many of these so-called pain clinics are nothing more than illegal drug distribution networks that bring untold misery to our children, our families, and our communities. I appreciate the bipartisan support I’ve received from members across the country who recognize the severity of this epidemic.”

Specifically, Buchanan’s bill, titled the "Pill Mill Crackdown Act of 2011," would:
  • Toughen federal penalties for pill mill operators by doubling the prison sentence from 10 to 20 years and tripling the fine from $1 million to $3 million.
  • Stipulate that assets seized from violators be used to: fund drug monitoring databases in the states; fund Drug Enforcement Administration actions against pill mills; and support drug treatment programs within the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
  • Reclassify hydrocodone combination drugs to make them a Schedule II drug that is more difficult to prescribe and obtain.
 In addition to the support from at least 25 of his colleagues who have signed on as co-sponsors, Buchanan's legislation has been endorsed by the National Coalition Against Prescription Drug Abuse.

“Prescription drug abuse has become a national epidemic that has no boundaries,” said April Rovero, founder and president of the NCAPDA. “The pill mills that are fueling this epidemic simply must be shut down."

You can view the bill here.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Buchanan to hold town hall in Parrish on economy and more

Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-Sarasota, announced today that he will hold a town hall meeting on jobs, the economy and health care in Parrish on Saturday.

“Jobs and the economy are the most important issue,” said Buchanan. “Congress needs to focus our efforts now on putting people back to work. I want to listen to the people and get their feedback, ideas and suggestions.”

Buchanan's town meeting will be held at 10:30 a.m. at the Parrish Community Center. The doors will open at 9:30 a.m. The venue is located at 12214 US 301 North, Parrish.

Call (941) 747-9081 if you plan to attend.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Florida Legislature opens with unprecedented public pressure

Florida lawmakers have convened today for the cermonial opening of the annual 60-day lawmaking session. And Gov. Rick Scott will steal the spotlight.

Scott will cap the day with his State of the State address at 6 p.m. -- the same time slot that his predecessor Charlie Crist chose after years of tradition where the governor would kick things off in the morning.

Reporter Sara Kennedy led off the Bradenton Herald's coverage with today's story taking a look at what each of our local representatives brings to the table. Hundreds of protesters have desended on the capital, with competing rallies revolving around Scott's proposed budget cuts. One is scheduled at  3 p.m. today outside Sen. Mike Bennett's office in Bradenton. We will bring you full coverage here with video and photos, as well as coverage in Wednesday's Herald.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Buchanan to unveil pill mill legislation

Seizing on one of Florida's most pressing law enforcement and health challenges, U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan on Friday will unveil what his office described as "sweeping legislation to crack down on phony pain management clinics."

Local governments, including Manatee County and the city of Bradenton, have tried to address the problem by establishing moratoriums and other measures to regulate pain management clinics. But a statewide effort has been slowed by Gov. Rick Scott's efforts to kill a statewide database designed to track prescriptions and purchases that was approved just last year by the Florida Legislature.

Scott's position has drawn fire from officials representing other states because Florida is home to the most "pill mills" in the United States and has "become known as a prime source of illegal prescription drugs in the eastern United States," a news release from Buchanan's office states.

At a forum earlier this week, Buchanan joined Manatee Sheriff Brad Steube and other law enforcement officials in calling on Scott to drop his opposition to the database.

Buchanan's office did not reveal details of his proposal, but the release announcing a news conference on Friday did list several points that highlight the magnitude of the prescription pill problem in Florida.

- Florida is home to 1,300 pill mills, most in the United States.

- Florida prescribes 10 times more oxycodone pills than all other states combined.

- Seven people die every day in Florida from prescription drug abuse.

- Florida has more pain clinics than McDonald’s restaurants.

- 22 Arrested and $2.5 Million seized in Florida pill mill raid last month.

Cross-posted at Crime Watch.