Splitting of pills to be taken over by DOC from company

Published: Saturday, April 1, 2006 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, March 31, 2006 at 11:29 p.m.
The Florida Department of Corrections has taken the unusual step of ending a contract for the splitting of pharmaceutical drugs, bowing to legislative pressure on the matter.
In a letter delivered on Friday, the agency told TYA Pharmaceuticals that it was ending the $12 million contract to split pills for inmates effective May 1. The agency will perform the job, intended to save money by splitting high-dosage pills into smaller doses, in its own pharmacies.
The agency also notified TYA, a Tallahassee company, that it will invite competing bids for the company's $72 million contract to repackage pills in bubble packages. The packages are used to prevent inmates from hoarding pills or misusing the containers. The corrections department will publish a request for bids in the next 10 days and have a new contract in place by July 1.
Robby Cunningham, a DOC spokesman, said interim Secretary James McDonough felt the decisions "were in the best interest of the state."
The Florida Auditor General has criticized TYA's contracts, finding myriad problems of lax oversight and accounting during the past two years. TYA originally received the contracts from DOC with no effort to seek other bids.
Angry lawmakers forced DOC to solicit bids for both contracts last year, but TYA provided the only legitimate offers. McDonough told concerned lawmakers last month that he would review the TYA contracts further. In a letter to Rep. Ed Homan, a Tampa Republican who chairs the Joint Legislative Auditing Committee, McDonough said the agency could perform the pill-splitting job "internally at a cost savings."
TYA also lost a contract in January with Prison Health Services to dispense prescription drugs to inmates in DOC Region IV, which serves 18 counties including Manatee, Sarasota and Charlotte. Prison Health Services is paid by DOC to supply health care needs for inmates in that region.
The state's Center for Efficient Government said that in the two years they've monitored the issue, they had no instances of an agency ending a contract with a private business and then doing the job itself. TYA owner Terry Yon said Friday that he agreed the agency could save money on the pill-splitting. And he said recent financial audits have cleared up any problems mentioned in previous state investigations.
"We'll put a bid in again," he said, referring to the repackaging contract.

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