Statewide Task Force on Prescription Drug Abuse & Newborns

Statewide Task Force on Prescription Drug Abuse & Newborns February 2014 Progress Report

Statewide Task Force on Prescription Drug Abuse & Newborns February 2013 Final Report


Newborn addicted to prescription drugsIntroduction

Attorney General Pam Bondi is dedicated to fighting prescription drug abuse and closing Florida’s "pill mills." When General Bondi learned that infants were being born drug exposed to prescription drugs throughout Florida, she worked closely with the Legislature to create the Statewide Task Force on Prescription Drug Abuse and Newborns.


Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome

Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS) refers to a group of medical complications associated with the withdrawal process newborns typically experience after birth if their mothers have used addictive illicit or prescription drugs during pregnancy. Florida is seeing a growing number NAS cases and these babies are born suffering from withdrawal symptoms such as tremors, seizures, abdominal pain, incessant crying, and rapid breathing. In 2011, there were 1,563 instances of newborns diagnosed with drug exposure in Florida, a three-fold increase since 2007.

While the numbers of women in Florida giving birth to drug exposed newborns is still thankfully few as a total percentage of pregnancies, NAS afflicted newborns impose disproportionately higher costs on our health care and social service systems compared to healthy deliveries. A study published by the Journal of the American Medical Association in April 2012 shows that, nationally, the number of babies born exposed to prescription drugs has nearly tripled in the past decade. The study indicates that 3.4 of every 1,000 infants born in a hospital in 2009 suffered from NAS. The study concludes that newborns with NAS require longer and more costly hospitalization. The cost of caring for a newborn with NAS was estimated to exceed $53,000 per infant in 2009.

The Task Force

Taskforce meetingThe 2012 Florida Legislature recognized the problem and adopted legislation creating a task force to examine the extent of prescription drug abuse among expectant mothers, as well as the costs of caring for babies with Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome, the long-term effects of the syndrome, and prevention strategies. By the start of the 2013 legislative session, the task force will provide lawmakers with a series of policy recommendations on how to combat the problem.

Task Force Mission Statement

The Prescription Drug Abuse & Newborn Task Force examines and analyzes prescription drug-driven Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome, evaluating effective prevention and treatment strategies, and submits its findings and proposals to the Florida legislature.

Task Force Members
  • Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi
  • Dr. John H. Armstrong, Secretary Department of Health
  • Secretary Elizabeth Dudek, Agency for Health Care Administration
  • Interim Secretary Esther Jacobo, Department of Children and Families
  • Commissioner Gerald M. Bailey, Florida Department of Law Enforcement
  • Senator Joe Negron
  • Representative Dana Young
  • Dr. Stephanie Haridopolos
  • Keith Nash, March of Dimes
  • Dr. Robert Yelverton
  • Dr. Kenneth Solomon, Pediatrix Medical Group, St. Joseph's Women's Hospital
  • Dr. David Dixon, North Florida Women’s Care
  • Willa Fuller, Florida Nurses Association Executive Director
  • Doug Leonardo, Executive Director BayCare Behavioral Health
  • Jane Murphy, Healthy Start Executive Director
Task Force Meetings

Schedule of Meetings


Born Drug-Free Florida Website

Attorney General Bondi, DCF Secretary Wilkins and Surgeon General Dr. Armstrong Announce Statewide Prescription Drug Abuse and Newborns Educational Initiative


Task Force Progress Report News Story


If you have questions or information to provide to the task force please email: matthew.dunagan@myfloridalegal.com.


All media inquiries should be directed to the Office of Communications at 850-245-0150.

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