#281 Jeb Bush Invades DoctorPatient Privacy

Date: Tue, 04 Nov 2003
Subject: #281 Jeb Bush Invades DoctorPatient Privacy


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DrugSense FOCUS Alert #281 Tue, 4 Nov 2003

Less than ninety days after his own daughter was released from a
state-sponsored drug treatment program, Florida Governor Jeb Bush is
making dire pronouncements about using heavy handed law enforcement
against others in Florida who commit the same crime of prescription
drug fraud.

In a commentary written for the Orlando Sentinel, Bush touts a
‘prescription validation system’ wherein all prescriptions will be
tracked by law enforcement. The proposed system does not define
precise numbers that result in criminal violation nor does it
precisely define what levels of drug use constitute abuse. Only the
law enforcement officers, the prosecutors and – by proxy – the
governor will be free to determine who will be charged as criminals.

The obvious result will be an increase in doctors’ under medicating
patients in need for fear of being criminally charged and losing their
livelihoods. Additionally, these same under medicated patients will
be motivated to buy from the black market, which will further
strengthen the finances of actual criminal drug dealers. Finally,
this proposal seeks to make drug war enemies out of doctors who help
hundreds, and often thousands of patients over time, simply because a
relatively tiny number of patients elect to abuse prescribed
pharmaceuticals. In effect, Bush’s idea causes dire pain and
inconvenience for hundreds of thousands of Floridians all in the
supposed name of saving a few hundred. Bush remains ignorant of the
fact that those who want to abuse drugs will choose to do so with or
without the governor’s stamp of approval.

Bush insists that the proposed system would respect doctor/patient
privacy. But this ignores the many police and prosecutors who will
have access to the information.

Please write a letter today to The Orlando Sentinel to tell them what
you think about Bush’s suggestion. Ask why Floridians in need of
medication should first get the approval of Gov. Bush and his law
enforcement agencies.

Thanks for your effort and support.

It’s not what others do it’s what YOU do


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Source: Orlando Sentinel

Contact: insight@orlandosentinel.com


The Orlando Sentinel is the 38th largest circulation newspaper in the
United States, with a daily circulation of just over a quarter million
copies. The average published Letter to the Editor is 190 words in
length. It is rare for the Sentinel to publish a letter over 250 words
in length. The newspaper does print letters from out of state.


You may wish to send letters to other Florida newspapers on this
topic, even if they have not provided coverage, as the issue of the
state working hand in hand with the DEA to make life harder for pain
doctors and their patients is important.

Current DrugNews items from Florida newspapers may be reviewed

http://www.mapinc.org/states/fl/ (Florida)

By going to the MAP media links page, and using the location dropdown
to select Florida, you can obtain the contact information for letters
to the editor for many Florida newspapers. Those showing larger
numbers of clippings are likely to be better targets for your efforts.




US FL: OPED: Bush Vows Crackdown
URL: http://www.mapinc.org/drugnews/v03.n1707.a08.html
Newshawk: http://www.november.org
Pubdate: Sat, 01 Nov 2003
Source: Orlando Sentinel (FL)
Copyright: 2003 Orlando Sentinel
Contact: insight@orlandosentinel.com
Website: http://www.orlandosentinel.com/
Details: http://www.mapinc.org/media/325
Author: Jeb Bush, Florida’s governor
Note: Jeb Bush, Florida’s governor, wrote this commentary for the Orlando
Bookmark: http://www.mapinc.org/people/jeb+bush
Related: http://www.mapinc.org/drugnews/v03/n1656/a02.html


Governor: Prescription-Drug Use Too Deadly To Ignore

In a recent series of articles, the Orlando Sentinel focused on the
alarming spread of prescription-drug abuse in Florida and the tragic
consequences for Floridians caught in its grip. Reporter Doris
Bloodsworth has exposed a problem that is too widespread and deadly to
ignore, and I hope her work will spur public support for a
comprehensive, coordinated approach to solving it.

Three years ago, Florida authorities noticed a disturbing trend of
rising prescription-drug abuse. Law enforcement found widespread
trafficking in illicit pharmaceuticals. Treatment centers reported a
shift among addicts, away from meetings with drug dealers in dark
corners in favor of doctor/pharmacy shopping. Internet drug sales
expanded, adding a new avenue of access for addicts and dealers.

Not surprisingly, Florida emergency rooms reported a significant
increase in drug overdoses from pharmaceuticals. Medical examiners
confirmed that the number of prescription-drug-related deaths in
Florida each year now exceeds the total deaths by cocaine and heroin
abuse combined. Every day, five Floridians lose their lives to
prescription-drug abuse.

It is not enough to mourn the lost or damaged lives; we must stop this
epidemic. We will continue to increase treatment opportunities for
addicts. We will continue to aggressively pursue and prosecute those
who prey on their vulnerabilities. And we must eliminate access to
illicit prescription drugs.

Today, addicts and dealers can exploit cracks in our prescription
system to obtain large quantities of potent prescription drugs. For
the past two years, with my strong support, Sen. Mike Fasano and Rep.
Gayle Harrell have sponsored legislation to create a prescription-drug
validation program to close these gaps, while maintaining the sanctity
of the doctor-patient relationship. Although the bill was endorsed by
the medical and law-enforcement communities, and passed overwhelmingly
by the Senate, the House has yet to bring this important legislation
to a final vote.

We will introduce the legislation again next spring, and I am
encouraged by the commitment of House Speaker Johnnie Byrd to see it
passed. With support from Floridians, we will create a validation
system that keeps drugs out of the hands of dealers and addicts, while
protecting the privacy of Floridians with legitimate prescriptions to

Florida continues to fight drug abuse on all fronts — prevention,
treatment and law enforcement. However, as with most diseases,
effective prevention is better than the cure. A prescription-validation
system will prevent addicts and those who supply them from obtaining
pharmaceuticals for illicit use. I applaud Fasano and Harrell for
their commitment and tenacity regarding legislation to achieve this,
and thank the Orlando Sentinel for raising awareness of this issue. A
statute with an equal focus on prevention and privacy will be a
valuable tool in the fight against prescription-drug abuse in Florida.



To the editors of The Orlando Sentinel:

Governor Jeb Bush’s touting of a prescription drug ‘validation’
program demonstrates ignorance about the fact that those who wish to
engage in abusive behavior will do so with or without his government
program intrusion. His own daughter’s actions in 2002 are a stark
example. The pharmacy she attempted to give a fraudulent prescription
to had a program in place, yet she chose to engage in the abusive
behavior regardless. And even if the Florida legislature were to pass
Bush’s proposed program, future Noelles would do whatever it takes to
obtain their desired drugs.

Further, the most harm from his proposal, if enacted, would come to
the tens of thousands of Floridians in real need of pain medication
who would now be seeing doctors afraid to accurately prescribe needed
drugs for fear of becoming a law enforcement target. As for those on
the fringe of true AB-use, they will be motivated to seek their drugs
from the black market, further enhancing the profits of true criminal
drug dealers.

Finally, his suggestion that such a program would respect
doctor/patient privacy belies the fact that law enforcement agencies
and prosecutors would have full access to the previously private
information. And these same officers and prosecutors would thus
become the arbiters as to who, when and how much medication is
appropriate, rather than medical doctors. Why must Floridians get law
enforcement clearance before receiving needed medical treatment?


Stephen Heath

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Prepared by: Stephen Heath, DPF Florida http://www.dpffl.org

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