A new bill aimed at giving the Surgeon General more power to stop doctors who over-prescribe narcotics has passed its first House panel.
The bill would allow the Surgeon General to issue an emergency order restricting a practitioner from prescribing controlled drugs if a case is pending, according to Health News Florida. However, the emergency order will not suspend the doctor from practice. Additionally, a probable-cause panel from a professional licensing board will have 20 days to uphold the order, after an emergency restriction on prescribing is issued. After that a formal hearing with witnesses can be scheduled.
Surgeon General Frank Farmer had asked for more authority to deal with health care professionals who contribute to the nationwide prescription drug epidemic. Florida has been identified as the source of narcotics for drug operations in many states.
This proposed bill follows tightened regulations on pain-management clinics implemented in 2011. One of these regulations included the creation of a Prescription Drug Monitoring Program that contains information from pharmacists on prescriptions for controlled drugs they have dispensed. E-FORCSE (Electronic Florida Online Reporting of Controlled Substances Evaluation) reportedly contains more than 21 million records and more than 100,000 reports have been checked.
While this legislation may seem likely to pass given the overwhelming concern about prescription drug abuse, House members have said they are concerned the bill interferes with the right to due process under the Constitution.