An 86-page rewrite of "pill mill" legislation unanimously cleared the House Appropriations Committee Tuesday. But the latest strategy for targeting an epidemic of prescription drug abuse drew strenuous objections of independent pharmacists who oppose new registration and permitting requirements that do not apply to larger pharmacy chains such as Publix, CVS and Walgreen's. Outlets may not sell more than 5,000 units of specific controlled substances in any given month.
The new version drew enthusiastic support from Attorney General Pam Bondi. "None of us want to put legitimate Mom-and-Pop pharmacies out of business," Bondi testified.
"You call this the pill mill bill," said Linda Bezick, a small-town pharmacist in Greenville. "This is really an anti-small pharmacy bill. It's very offensive." The new bill requires pharmacies to apply for permits and to comply with new requirements that include on-site inspections and disclosure of financial interests, to keep logs of all prescriptions and to require a designated pharmacy manager.
Rep. Ron Saunders, D-Key West, the House minority leader, criticized the fact that the 86-page amendment surfaced Monday afternoon. But Saunders voted for the bill anyway (HB 7095), which is sponsored by Rep. Rob Schenck, R-Spring Hill, who said the new law is needed to attack the "ugly, nasty problem" of prescription drug abuse.
-- Steve Bousquet