The Wall Street Journal describes some of the blowback Governor Scott is getting for proposing to repeal Florida’s planned prescription drug monitoring system. His spokesperson argues that this isn’t a legitimate function of government, but it’s too late in our history for that argument to make sense. Government has been licensing physicians and pharmacists and overseeing the development and approval of medications for over a century. It’s already deeply involved in all aspects of this problem and the question is not whether it “gets” involved, but how to make its involvement more effective.
The Sun-Sentinel reports that Florida accounts for almost ten times as many prescribed doses of oxycodone as the other 49 states combined! I almost can’t believe that number, but ARCOS data are usually pretty good (and with a finding like this, ARCOS could be overstating the situation in Florida dramatically and the contrast would still be startling).
Florida’s pill mills are increasing addiction and overdose deaths not just in Florida but throughout the Southeast. I don’t personally know the governor and his team, but the tone of their remarks suggests to me that the initial decision to scuttle the program was made casually in the early, hectic days of office and they were surprised by the response from health and law officials and politicians from both parties. But rather than take a breath and ponder their next move, they reflexively came out swinging and staked the new governor’s reputation on a bad policy that is a loser for his constituents.
In the macho world of politics, it’s hard to climb down in these situations…but Governor Scott, this isn’t about ego, this is life and death and no one is going to say “I told you so” if you change your mind. They are going to help you succeed in bringing this terrible public health and public safety problem to heel.