Ky. Attorney General urges follow through on Fla. drug tracking
Published: Friday, April 1, 2011 at 12:44 p.m.
Last Modified: Friday, April 1, 2011 at 12:44 p.m.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Kentucky's attorney general has written directly to Florida residents urging them to speak out for their state's yet-to-be-implemented prescription drug-tracking law, which he says would help crack down on so-called pill mills feeding addictions in Kentucky.
Attorney General Jack Conway wrote a letter to the editor that appeared Friday in the Sun-Sentinel newspaper in South Florida — a region widely regarded as the national epicenter for illegal dispensing of prescription drugs such as the highly addictive painkiller oxycodone.
Conway called it "a matter of life and death" in urging Floridians to follow through with their state's planned database for tracking prescription drugs.
"I encourage you to contact your state representatives and senators to let them know that you support efforts to implement an electronic monitoring program in Florida," Conway wrote.
"We cannot afford to lose a generation of Floridians and Kentuckians to prescription pill abuse."
Conway cited estimates from federal law enforcement that 60 percent of illegal pills in Kentucky come directly from Florida. Pill abuse has become so rampant in Kentucky that prescription drug overdose deaths now surpass traffic deaths in the Bluegrass state, Conway's office said.
"We in law enforcement know that people from Kentucky take flights or vans down to Florida simply to obtain and fill prescriptions for pain pills," Conway wrote.
Conway said that 34 states, including Kentucky, have prescription monitoring programs in place. He said Kentucky's tracking system has become "an invaluable tool in combating doctor-shopping, pill mills and the over-prescribing of narcotics."
Conway's letter is the latest appeal from several Kentucky leaders urging Florida to implement its own tracking system as a way to save lives in Kentucky.
Florida Gov. Rick Scott has proposed scrapping the pill-tracking database, claiming privacy concerns. In February, U.S. Rep. Harold Rogers, R-Ky., and chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, wrote to Scott urging him to back off repealing the pill-monitoring law.
Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi opposes repealing the system and has been working with him to find an alternative.
Conway, a Democrat, didn't mention Scott in his letter, but praised Bondi for her "willingness to stand up on this issue." Scott and Bondi are both Republicans.
Scott and Bondi recently announced a new Florida law enforcement effort to target doctors and pharmaceutical manufacturers that illegally distribute prescription drugs to addicts and drug dealers. Scott said the goal is to end the pipeline of illicit prescription drugs flowing out of Florida to other states.
Conway said in a separate statement Friday that the new initiative by Florida is a "step in the right direction," and said it's similar to a prescription drug diversion task force that he started in Kentucky.
But Conway said it's not enough, and that Florida still needs to implement a tracking system to combat doctor shopping and overprescribing physicians.
"Without the database, Florida's illegal pill mills will continue to kill Kentuckians," Conway said.