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Florida’s failing drug program

WorkCompCentral’s Mike Whiteley reported this morning that Florida’s Prescription Drug Management Program (PDMP) is in danger of running out of money [sub req], just over a year after it got started, leaving doctors and dispensers with no way to monitor their patients’ access to  powerful, potentially addictive drugs.

PDMPs collect data on prescriptions for controlled substances from doctors and pharmacies, allowing both to access the database to find out if patients are getting conflicting, duplicate, or otherwise problematic scripts.

There are two main reasons for this debacle; Governor Rick Scott’s unfathomable decision to refuse state funding for the PDMP, and the incompetence and lack of diligence exhibited by and the chairman of the Florida PDMP foundation.

Scott rejected state funding for the PDMP, despite overwhelming evidence that Florida’s drug abuse problem was – by far – the worst in the nation.  As a result, the PDMP requires a mix of Federal and private funding to maintain its operations; according to Whiteley’s piece, there’s significant risk this isn’t going to be enough to keep the program functioning for much longer.

The chairman of the PDMP Foundation – responsible for funding the PDMP – is none other than Dave Bowen, president of physician dispensing company Automated Healthcare Solutions.  Evidently Bowen has been so busy spending millions lobbying Florida’s legislators to keep open the loophole that has AHCS rolling in cash he hasn’t had time to ensure the PDMP is adequately funded.  This despite his boss’s statement that “Information provided by the PDMP will be a powerful tool to make sure medication gets into the hands of people who truly need it…”


PDMPs aren’t intended to “ensure medication gets into the hands of people who truly need it…”; perhaps that’s the problem.  They are specifically intended to “reduce prescription drug abuse and diversion”; at least that’s what Bowen’s own Florida PDMP Foundation says they are supposed to do.  Those are very different goals; adherence to prescription drug treatment is quite different from making sure patients aren’t going to multiple docs and multiple pharmacies.  

According to Bowen’s PDMP Foundation website, there are calls scheduled each month; however – according to that same website – there are only notes for four calls so far this year, and none documented since June.  The website itself indicates funding is only assured thru June of 2011…

The opioid disaster has hit Florida as hard as any state. The PDMP is one tool that can go a long way to addressing the problem.  It is a travesty that a) the state can’t find less than a million bucks a year to fund the PDMP and b) the ostensible leader of the Foundation, one so committed to the PDMP somehow can’t find time to meet, much less actually get the program funded.

Note – this post was altered after Alia FarajJohnson, AHCS’ PR flack, complained that she’d been misquoted in the piece by Mike Whiteley.  I removed her quote.

2 thoughts on “Florida’s failing drug program”

  1. Given that only 13.5% of the state’s controlled substance prescribers are registered with eforcse ( , you see how much of an uphill battle PDMP’s actually are when there is no teeth in the legislation. If the prescribers aren’t implementing a PDMP check as part of their standards of care (forced or not), it becomes a shiny gimmick, regardless of the source of funding.

  2. Unfortunately, this is a problem in multiple states that have PDMP’s. The states passed the bill creating them, but did not secure long-term funding. California’s PDMP does not have funding secured for next year either.

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Joe Paduda is the principal of Health Strategy Associates



A national consulting firm specializing in managed care for workers’ compensation, group health and auto, and health care cost containment. We serve insurers, employers and health care providers.



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