DeSantis Signs Bill Providing Attorneys Access To Drug Database

Jun 26, 2019

A measure that would allow attorneys for the state to have access to a prescription-drug database as they pursue a lawsuit against the pharmaceutical industry over the opioid epidemic was among 10 bills signed Monday by Gov. Ron DeSantis.

The signings --- nine were announced by the governor’s office Tuesday morning --- came less than a week before all 10 of the bills will take effect July 1.

The drug database law (HB 1253) was a priority during this year’s legislative session of Attorney General Ashley Moody, who considered access to the records a critical weapon in the state’s lawsuit against the pharmaceutical industry.

The law allows lawyers working for the state to have access to information in a database that was created to prevent “doctor shopping” by drug addicts and traffickers.

Moody told lawmakers during the session the information in the database is needed to demonstrate that highly addictive prescription drugs “were being recklessly distributed.”

“Those who helped fuel this man-made crisis must be held accountable, and this new law will help us do that,” Moody said in a prepared statement Tuesday.

The legislation faced some backlash, including about a need to protect patient privacy, an issue that has surrounded the database, known as the “PDMP,” since its inception a decade ago.

The database contains patient-specific information about prescribing and dispensing controlled substances, the prescriptions that doctors order and prescriptions filled by pharmacies.

To ease privacy concerns, the bill contains limits on the information Moody’s office can receive and includes safeguards regarding court-issued protective orders and destruction of the information from the database after it has been used.

The attorney general’s office last year filed the lawsuit to try to recoup millions of dollars the state has spent because of the opioid epidemic.

The lawsuit was filed against manufacturers, distributors and sellers of opioids and includes a series of allegations, including misrepresentation about opioid use and filling suspicious orders for the drugs.

The database legislation was considered a quicker route than going to court to try to get such information, which Moody’s office believed could have created a years-long delay and increased the costs to the state.