April 16, 2014

Social Issue - Pill Mills - Florida Newsmakers of the Year

Snapshots from the prescription drug war

Amy Keller | 1/1/2011

• PILL MILLS
Snapshots from the prescription drug war

Prescription Pills
• Florida leads the nation in prescriptions for oxycodone. "Pill mills" disguised as pain clinics have become popular destinations for prescription drug seekers from other states who load up on scripts and pills in Florida and haul the drugs back to places like Kentucky and Ohio, where they resell them on the streets.

• Prescription drug deaths climbed to 2,488 in 2009 — a rate of seven deaths per day — making prescription drug abuse the No. 1 killer of middle-aged Floridians. In Broward County alone, 415 people died with prescription opiates (including oxycodone, hydrocdone, methadone and morphine) in their systems.

• American Pain in Lake Worth saw 250 patients a day, paid doctors $44,000 a week and administered more than 2 million oxycodone pills, according to federal court documents. The clinic's five doctors ranked among the top 20 purchasers of oxycodone, according to the DEA.

• Between August 2008 and November 2009, a new pain clinic opened in Broward and Palm Beach counties on average every three days, according to a Broward County grand jury.

• In 2009, the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office made 243 drug diversion arrests — involving prescription drugs diverted for recreational use — compared to 83 in 2008. In Pinellas, 179 people overdosed on prescription drugs in 2009. In neighboring Hillsborough County, commissioners passed an emergency ordinance last May to regulate the county's pain management clinics.

• According to a July 2010 report by the United Way of Broward County's Commission on Substance Abuse, rates of oxycodone-related visits to the emergency departments in Broward and Palm Beach counties by people in their 20s is double the national rate.

• The Legislature passed SB 2272, which requires pain clinics to register with the state and makes them subject to annual inspections. It also prohibits physicians from advertising prescriptions for controlled substances and limits the amount of prescription drugs people can purchase from a pain management clinic if they are not covered by insurance. Lawmakers may have to approve the new regulations a second time, however: Last fall, the GOP-led Legislature overrode former Gov. Charlie Crist's veto of a bill that requires legislative approval of any new regulation that creates compliance costs of more than $1 million over five years for the business community.

Business
Mark Wilson
Wilbur Ross Jr.
Lola Gonzalez
John Textor
Robert Clements
Thomas Gaffney
Hugh Green
R.J. Scaringe
Foreclosure Fighters
Julian MacQueen

Politics
Mel Martinez & The Dominoes

Military
Florida's Fallen Soldiers

Education
Frank Brogan
Maryellen Elia

Science/Innovation
Win Phillips & David Day
Ian MacDonald & William Hogarth

Environment
Extreme Temperatures

CRITTERS
Mystery Monkey

Sports
Tampa Bay Rays' Top Brass
Pat Riley

Volunteer/Non-Profit
Barth Green

Arts/Entertainment
New World Symphony
Pitbull
Pamela Tuscany

Dubious Achievers
Scott Rothstein
David Brooks

Jim Greer
Wayne McLeod
Lewis Freeman
Pawl Hawks
Lee Farkas

Tags: Healthcare

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