Attorney General Pam Bondi News Release


October 5, 2011
Media Contact: Jenn Meale
Phone: (850) 245-0150

Attorney General Pam Bondi Announces Proposed Legislation to Create a Statewide Task Force on Prescription Drug Abuse and Newborns

TALLAHASEE, Fla. –Attorney General Pam Bondi, Senator Joe Negron (R-Stuart) and Representative Kelli Stargel (R-Lakeland) today announced a legislative proposal to create a Statewide Task Force on Prescription Drug Abuse and Newborns. The task force would be charged with examining the scope of the problem, the costs associated with caring for babies with neonatal withdrawal syndrome, the long-term effects of the syndrome, and strategies for preventing prescription drug abuse by expectant mothers. The following people also participated in the press conference: Dr. Stephanie Haridopolos; Surgeon General Dr. Frank Farmer; Dr. Kenneth Solomon, Neonatologist and Director of the NICU of St. Joseph’s Women’s Hospital; and Dr. Doug Leonardo, President-Elect of the Florida Alcohol & Drug Abuse Association.

“I have seen firsthand the most vulnerable victims of prescription drug abuse, and we must do everything we can to protect these newborns,” stated Attorney General Pam Bondi. “A thorough examination of this emerging problem now will help us develop sound prevention strategies for the future.”

"I look forward to working with General Bondi to do everything we can to make sure newborns in Florida begin life in good health, with devoted parents to nurture and take care of them," stated Senator Joe Negron.

"We need more information about the unfortunate emerging trend of babies born addicted to prescription narcotics. A better understanding of the scope of the problem is necessary to develop effective strategies to prevent prescription drug abuse by pregnant mothers," stated Representative Kelli Stargel.

Neonatal withdrawal syndrome is a collection of problems that will occur in a newborn that has been exposed to addictive drugs while in the womb. Symptoms of withdrawl include: fever, seizures, blotchy skin, incessant shrill cries, respiratory problems, and extreme sensitivity to sounds and light. Since Florida is the epicenter of prescription drug abuse, a state-level response is needed. If this epidemic is not slowed, and then reversed, the risk to the well-being of women and their children and medical costs associated with expectant mothers and newborns will continue to rise.

“At St. Joseph’s Women’s Hospital, we are working to provide the necessary newborn infant treatment while educating parents about the special needs of these babies. We’re eager to collaborate on local and statewide initiatives that target maternal early identification and provide prenatal treatment that can help prevent needless suffering,” stated Dr. Kenneth Solomon, Neonatologist and Director of the NICU of St. Joseph’s Women’s Hospital.

Members of the statewide task force include Attorney General Pam Bondi, Surgeon General Dr. Frank Farmer, Agency for Health Care Administration Secretary Elizabeth Dudek, Florida Department of Law Enforcement Commissioner Gerald Bailey, a representative from the Florida Hospital Association, a representative from Florida Medical Association, a substance abuse recovery organization, a member of the Florida Senate, and a member of the Florida House of Representatives.

A copy of House Bill 227 can be viewed here: http://www.myfloridahouse.gov/Sections/Documents/loaddoc.aspx?FileName=_h0227__.docx&DocumentType=Bill&BillNumber=0227&Session=2012

A copy of Senate Bill 402 can be viewed here:
http://www.flsenate.gov/Session/Bill/2012/0402