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Jacksonville Doctor: Prescription Monitoring Expansion Only Partial Answer To Opioid Crisis

Frankie Leon
Flickr Creative Commons

More than a week after President Donald Trump declared a public health emergency over the opioid epidemic; Florida lawmakers are considering implementing one of his federal recommendations on the state level.

Sunshine State leaders will decide whether to expand the use of the state’s prescription drug monitoring program during next year’s legislative session.

But one Jacksonville doctor says that measure is treating the wrong addiction crisis.

Sen. Lizbeth Benacquisto, R-Fort Myers, is sponsoring a sweeping measure mandating doctors get special certification to prescribe controlled substances like opioid painkillers. It also expands the state’s prescription monitoring program to include physicians. Right now, it only applies to pharmacists or the practitioners who also dispense medication, reports WFSU’s Nick Evans.

That’s something the president called for too — the limiting of prescriptions and closer monitoring of what patients are taking.

Shortly after Trump’s announcement Jacksonville addiction specialist Raymond Pomm said these extra limitations should have been implemented years ago.

“I’m going to be very blunt here: He’s talking about the wrong epidemic. Oops. That’s the prescription opioid epidemic. We should’ve done that in the late 90s,” he said.

Instead, Pomm said today’s addiction crisis has more to do with illicit drugs like heroin and the newer fentanyl and it’s not clear exactly how they’re connected.

“We don’t know how many people that went to these doctors became addicted because of the doctor or were already on their way or already were addicted and that was just a source for them,” he said.

Last summer the Jacksonville City Council approved $1.4 million for an emergency pilot program Pomm proposed. His goal is to start addiction treatment the minute overdose victims get to the emergency room.

Ryan Benk can be reached at rbenk@wjct.org , 904-358-6319 or on Twitter at @RyanMichaelBenk .

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Ryan Benk
Ryan Benk is originally from Miami, Florida and came to Tallahassee to attend Florida State University. He worked on Miami Dade College’s Arts and Literature Magazine- Miamibiance Magazine and has published poetry and a short film called “ The Writer.” He’s currently working as the Newsroom’s Researcher while finishing his Creative Writing Bachelor’s Degree at Florida State University. When he’s not tracking down news, Ryan likes watching films, writing fiction and poetry, and exploring Florida.
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