Bill Analysis of House Bill 7095: Prescription Drugs Christian Butterfield PAD 3003 – 02 Dr. Tracy Banner June 8, 2011 Analysis of House Bill 7095: Prescription Drugs Executive Summary House Bill 7095, relating to Prescription Drugs or more commonly known as the “Pill Mill Bill” was passed by the Florida Legislature on May 6, 2011, and signed by Governor Rick Scott on June 3, 2011. In essence, H. B. 095 regulates all facets of the prescribing and dispensing of pain killers and controlled substances, from distributors all the way to pharmacists and doctors. One of the main aspects of the bill is its enforcement of s. 456. 44 F. S. ; which deals with the dispensing of prescription drugs such as pain killers and controlled substances; by making it a third-degree felony for not abide by the requirements set forth by H. B. 7095. In addition to the penalties H. B. 095 may issue it also provides other measures to combat the “pill mills” such as the required use of state-approved counterfeit-proof prescription pads, requiring to keep and make available the prescription history of prescribed patients, limiting the amount of controlled substances that can be distributed to pharmacies, and not allowing physicians to dispense controlled substances or pain killers except for emergency purposes. Background The “Pill Mill Bill” or H. B. 095 was a bill of great importance during this past legislative session receiving significant support from both Attorney General Pam Bondi and Governor Rick Scott and its value was demonstrated as both the House and the Senate passed H. B. 7095 unanimously (LobbyTools, 2011). Prescription drug abuse of both controlled substances and pain killers in Florida has intensified over the years to the point where Governor Scott’s administration felt the only option was to pass legislature in order to curtail the drug abuse.
Another significant problem with controlled substances and pain killers was the ease one could receive prescriptions for them within the state, which is what led to the abuse in the first place. Florida became known as “Oxy Express” (Zink & George, 2011), with people coming from all over to be prescribed controlled substances and pain killers due to the lack of difficulty one would have with obtaining prescription drugs in the state.
The state received enormous pressure from around the nation to pass legislation in order to regulate the prescription drugs as our pharmacies and clinics were prescribing and dispensing controlled substances and pain killers to addicts from all over the United States. The Florida Comprehensive Drug Abuse and Prevention Control Act (893. 03 F. S. ), provides a set of groupings otherwise known as schedules to classify the different controlled substances by characteristics as well as its potential for abuse (Thomas, 2011).
These schedules (I, II, III, IV, and V) streamlined manufacturing, distributing, and prescribing the different controlled substances. The lower the schedule the higher the potential for abuse is and the lower the medical uses are for those particular substances. The non-medical abuse of these substances (schedules I &II) is what’s causing an alarm across the nation. Pain clinics or “Pill Mills” as they were known, were known to dispense some of these controlled substances without asking for much more than a simple prescription without checking the validity of the patient or the prescription.
In 2009, the State Attorney for Broward County asked a grand jury to consider the effect of controlled substance abuse and pain clinics and what maybe some solutions to curtail abuse, some of that grand jury’s findings have directly impacted some of the legislation within H. B. 7095 (Thomas, 2011). Policy Analysis H. B. 7095 is attempting to deter and decrease the rampant abuse of prescription drugs that is plaguing not only the state of Florida but the nation as a whole.
The abuse of prescription drugs and controlled has come to a fever pitch, with Florida being one of the states not only with some of the most abuse, but also one of the top dispensing states for prescription drugs. In a recent report, prescription drug abuse has been found as the cause of death more often than that of illegal drugs such as heroin or methamphetamine. In fact, during the first six months of the past year 2010, it was reported that seven people a day were dying from prescription drug abuse (FDLE, 2010). H. B. 095 discourages prescription drug abuse in a variety ways, but mainly by making the acquisition of controlled substances much stricter and not as easy as before. The first step will be for the Department of Health to declare a public health emergency so that state and local law enforcement agencies can implement the new regulations and arrest or fine anybody not following the bills stipulations. There will be strict penalties for overprescribing controlled substance as in third-degree felony charges and license removal. Physicians are refrained from prescribing certain controlled substances (schedule II & III).
In addition, all physicians must return any schedule II or III controlled substances back to the distributors once the bill goes in to effect. Limits have also been placed on the amount of controlled substances distributors may distribute to pharmacies and the amount they can sell. Pharmacies and pain clinics also have new standards and regulations regarding how and to whom they can dispense controlled substances to. The reporting of drug prescriptions and sales to the Dept. of Health has a shorter turn-around time as well as new filing policies for patient’s prescription information/history.
Even new counterfeit-proof prescription pads with specific patient information filled out will have to be used in order to prescribe patients with controlled substances. This bill will force physicians and pharmacists alike to become more vigilant in prescribing and dispensing controlled substances to not only the correct patients but those who actually need the medication. Although some of the changes are abrupt and somewhat swift in their calls to action, policy makers believe these changes are necessary in order to shift the trend facing Florida regarding prescription drug abuse.
This bill will allow Florida citizens to have a higher quality of life, saving lives, and reducing crime. Local communities will find relief in knowing that there are set state regulations to help prevent drug addiction and abuse from prescription drugs as well as knowing that these controlled substances are not readily available both to the older and younger generations. Kentucky Governor Steve Bershear who attended a congressional meeting with Governor Scott this past April stated “The signing of this bill will undoubtedly save lives – not just in Florida, but in points north, including my home state of Kentucky” (Zink & George, 2011).
Governor Bershear’s comments prove not only the importance of this bill on a state level, but its effect on a national level. On the other hand, this bill may have some negative effects on the local business level with pharmacies and pain clinics having to close due to a lack of business and/or the number of permits they have to obtain in order to continue selling prescription drugs and controlled substances. Fiscal Analysis H. B. 7095 does have a small appropriation from the General Revenue Fund.
The Legislature has appropriated an initial $3 million in non-recurring funds to help fund state and local law enforcement agencies in the preparation and implementation for when the bills goes in to effect, July 1, 2011 (LobbyTools, 2011). The $3 million is a non-recurring fund which means it is a one-time appropriation that will not be appropriated again. The appropriation is more of a help for the administrative tasks of finding all the physicians, pain clinics, pharmacies, and suppliers that may continue to illegal prescribe, dispense, or supply whether knowingly or unknowingly prohibited controlled substances.
In my opinion, there will be a direct effect to state revenues and expenditures with the implementation of this bill. The most obvious effect is the $3 million from the state’s General Revenue Fund that is being appropriated for the bill. But beyond that there is some loss of revenues that I foresee the state missing out on, and that is the loss of business revenues and taxes associated with the eventual closing of some pharmacies and pain clinics that will have to shut their doors due to a lack of business.
As of right now, there is a market demand for controlled substance prescriptions to be dispensed, but once H. B. 7095 goes into effect, a good chunk of that demand will disappear as will those businesses revenue. Without revenue these pharmacies and pain clinics will close and that will be one less business paying taxes into the state coffers. In addition, now that physicians are not allowed not prescribe/dispense controlled substances they may lose a chunk of their revenue which as a result would mean they are going to pump less money into the economy through their office as well as their daily expenditures.
On the other hand, permit fees for prescribing these drugs may be a source of revenue for the state albeit not a large one but one were they may see some decent profits. As I stated earlier, it is my opinion after analyzing this bill will have a negative fiscal impact to private businesses as well as local governments. Let me illustrate, under this bill it will be hard for the small pharmacies to be able to stay afloat when controlled substances are one of the major selling prescription drugs, so these pharmacies are losing a good chunk of business.
On top of that their suppliers can only sell them a limited amount of these prescription drugs which the suppliers had to repurchase all the controlled substances from the physicians per H. B. 7095’s parameters. So that means the suppliers are going to raise the price of the controlled substances due to the fact that they have a larger supply and very limited demand from the pharmacies. As a result that raises the cost for the pharmacies which lowers their revenues and profit margins.
This scenario which is likely to happen will result in not only local pharmacies closing but also small to mid-level suppliers without much inventory besides that of prescribed controlled substances. And these local pharmacies and small to medium-level distributors are what keep these communities going, from sponsoring the little league teams in the areas to employing members of the community. And that’s not taking into account the loss of tax revenues for the local governments when these private businesses go out of business. H. B. 095 does not increase or decrease any taxes directly, but indirectly it may in the future. The government might have to raise certain taxes or fees in order to counter act the loss of the business revenues from taxes and other fees these businesses were contributing to in the first place. Some fees associated with this bill maybe the fees the government charges the pharmacies, pharmacists, suppliers, physicians, and pain clinics in order to receive the permits necessary to prescribe, provide, or dispense these prescription controlled substances. Conclusion and Recommendations
In conclusion, I would have done as Governor Scott has done and signed H. B. 7095 into law and turn it into Chapter No. 2011-141 of Florida law. The simple reason being that prescription drug abuse of controlled substances is becoming a serious issue within our state’s population, as well as our state was significantly contributing to the nation’s prescription drug abuse problem. It is vital though that the state manages these regulations well, and does not succumb to the pressures of the powerful health-care/medical industry in the future by loosening restrictions or lessening the penalties of not adhering to H.
B. 7095’s regulations. Prescription drug abuse has a profound negative effect on our society and H. B. 7095 is taking some important and necessary steps towards reducing controlled substance abuse significantly. While there may be some negative economic effects with private businesses as a result of this legislation, I believe the positive effects our state will feel in the future outweigh them. References House Bill 7095. Bill Text. Retrieved June 5, 2011, from http://www. lsenate. gov/Session/Bill/2011/7095 FDLE, & Judiciary Medical Examiners Commission (2010). Drugs identified in deceased persons by florida medical examiners. 2010 Midterm Report, Retrieved June 5, 2011, from http://www. fdle. state. fl. us/Content/getdoc/8a59bd00-c38d-4be1-ac06-715a273b552e/MEC-2010-Interim-Report. aspx Thomas (2011). Judiciary Committee. House of Representatives Staff Analysis CS/HB 7095 , Retrieved June 5, 2011, from