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Lawmakers Fight Florida's Distinction as "Pill Mill Capital"

By Gina Jordan


Tallahassee, FL – The Florida Office of Drug Control says the illegal diversion and abuse of prescription drugs is the biggest health problem Florida faces. Lawmakers passed legislation last year to crack down on so-called pill mills, but some say they didn't go far enough. Gina Jordan tells us there's a push to get even tougher on clinics and doctors that dole out pain medication.

A "pill mill" refers to a person or business that prescribes or dispenses narcotics in a way that is not in compliance with the law. Senator Mike Fasano, Republican of New Port Richey, is cosponsoring legislation relating to controlled substances.
"We have all read and heard about the pill mill industry and the pain management clinics throughout the state and how we're seeing an average of about seven people per day, Mr. President and members, die because of prescription drugs. This will, I hope, will continue to pursue shutting these unethical pain management clinics down throughout our state."

The bill modifies and enhances the regulation of pain management clinics, requiring that they be registered and inspected. Senator Dave Aronberg, Democrat of Greenacres and candidate for Attorney General, sponsors a similar measure that is being combined with Fasano's bill.

"Would this provision apply to podiatry or other types of clinics? And the way I read this bill, it would. Anyone that advertises for pain management services or they employ a physician who is primarily engaged in the treatment of pain, would have to register.

Fasano said the bill does not do that, but it will allow lawmen to be informed about possible doctor shopping and potential criminal conduct by practitioners. Last year lawmakers passed a bill creating a database for tracking narcotic prescriptions. This legislation requires the prescription drug monitoring program database to provide information to law enforcement agencies that might be indicative of violations of the Florida Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act.

"Most of the people who die in this country because of prescription drugs, it happens in Broward County in the state of Florida, and last year we passed the monitoring bill. This year we want to make certain those pain management clinics are registered and inspected so they stop the killing."

Bruce Grant, Director of the Governor's Office of Drug Control, recently cited statistics that show forty-nine of the country's fifty biggest Oxycodone prescribers are in Florida. Twenty-five of those are in Broward County alone, and that does not count all the smaller operations. The bill passed the Senate and a similar measure is now on the House floor.