The Miami Herald’s Carl Hiaasen punch’s Rick Scott’s ticket on his nonsensical opposition to regulating pill mills, which going forward, should probably be called “ScottShops…”
From Hiassen’s column:
Last week, as drug agents secretly prepared to raid more than a dozen South Florida pill mills, Gov. Rick Scott reaffirmed his staunch opposition to a statewide computer database that would track prescriptions of Vicodin, Percocet and other dangerous narcotics.
Said Scott: “I don’t support the database. I believe it’s an invasion of privacy.”
His statement raises numerous questions, none of them comforting.
Has Florida finally elected a certifiable whack job as governor?
The answer to that, is “yes.”
Is Scott himself overmedicating?
Hm… maybe the problem is not with Scott, but with “a friend…”
Now that’s one I hadn’t thought of …
Why would any sane or sober public official go out of his way — very publicly — to protect pill pushers and crooked doctors?
Because “let’s get to work” includes getting to work selling uppers to pill heads out of the trunk of your car?
Thirty-eight states use databases to keep track of oxycodone and other painkillers that are now the most widely abused (and lethal) drugs in the country.
Florida is the largest state without such a database, and the undisputed epicenter of the sleazy illegal pill trade.
In the first six months of 2010, doctors in Florida prescribed nine times more oxycodone than was sold in the entire United States during that same period. Pain mills here have prospered wildly and proliferated – in Broward County alone there are 130.
Again, two words: Rush … Limbaugh …
Two years ago, the Republican-controlled Legislature approved a painkiller database, which would be privately funded. Law enforcement officers say it’s an absolutely essential tool for attacking storefront clinics and the drug dealers who flock to Florida from throughout the eastern United States.
The database should have been up and running by now, but bid disputes with private contractors have delayed implementation. Authorities were hoping to have the computerized system in place this spring, but then Scott took office and announced his intention to kill it, along with the state anti-drug office that conceived it.
No one can fathom why.
Top law enforcement officials, legislators and even the governor of Kentucky (which has been tragically saturated with pills from Florida) have asked Scott to reconsider, but he won’t budge.
Last week’s raids, carried out from Miami to West Palm Beach, gave another squalid glimpse of the crisis.
The clinics operate as high-volume dispensaries, sometimes with armed guards on patrol. Huge amounts of pills are prescribed by staff doctors to walk-in “patients” exhibiting few, if any, symptoms. Typically the buyers then go peddle the painkillers on the street for up to 10 times the amount they paid.
According to a federal indictment, seven clinics in Broward and Miami-Dade were controlled by a model citizen named Vincent Colangelo, a convicted heroin dealer.
Apparently pharmaceuticals now offer juicier profit-margins than smack.
Over a two-year period, Colangelo allegedly distributed more than 660,000 oxycodone pills, enriching him and his partners to the tune of $150,000 a day.
Fortunately, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration has its own methods for tracking suspicious prescriptions, and the generous prescribing habits of several doctors attracted the agency’s attention. One of them was Dr. Zvi Perper, who wrote scripts for 387,000 oxycodone tablets in six months at a Delray Beach pain clinic.
Ironically, Zvi Perper is the son of Dr. Joshua Perper, the Broward County medical examiner. Given the sky-high overdose statistics in South Florida, it’s not farfetched to assume that the elder Perper has performed autopsies on some of the younger Perper’s pill-popping customers.
One view of Gov. Scott’s opposition to the drug database is that he’s an ideological extremist who doesn’t like any form of government snooping.
Perhaps there are hard feelings left over from his days at Columbia/HCA, when the feds were nailing the company for massive Medicare fraud.
In any case, one can’t help but wonder if Scott’s concern for shielding the privacy of dope dealers will extend to other criminals. …
Hiassen goes on to make some colorful suggestions, and reports that at least one Repblican is crafting a plan to get around Scott — just like Republicans are trying to get around him on high speed rail. So GOP, still feeling good about selling your soul to Mr. 777 for a few pieces of silver and a pair of inaugural tickets?