The fastest growing form of addiction in the United States is the illicit use of prescription pill narcotics. The rise in drug crimes associated with the operation of pain management clinics that illegally prescribe and sell prescription pain killers has led to a nationwide crackdown. The epicenter of the nationwide crackdown against prescription drug misuse is Florida. Recently, authorities in Florida have been building cases against doctors and clinics by making undercover drug purchases.
Local police and agents with the Drug Enforcement Administration are focusing their efforts on “pill mills.” Pill mills are cash-only clinics that require a superficial exam before a prescription by a doctor is issued. Once the prescription is issued at the clinic, the patient can get the prescription filled at the clinic’s pharmacy on-site. Since patients can complete the entire prescription process at one location, authorities call the clinics pill mills.
According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health reports around 7 million people age 12 or older abuse prescription drugs regularly. The most popular forms of pain killers that are illicitly used are oxycodone and hydrocodone. The drugs are highly addictive and the popular perception is the drugs are safer and more predictable than drugs bought on the street. The rise in narcotic prescription pain killers can partly be attributed to the increase in safety and effectives of the drugs over the last three decades. Illicit use has followed the increase in the proper use of the drugs.
Broward County, Florida where Fort Lauderdale is located is the largest geographic distributor of prescription painkillers. In 2009, the area had a population of 1.8 million and doctors there dispersed 16 million prescription painkillers. Doctors in Florida purchase the largest amount of oxycodone by far. Doctors in every state except Florida purchased 4.8 million pills. Doctors in Florida purchased 41.2 million pills, almost ten times the amount. Next time we will continue to look at the issue of illicit pain killer use.
Source: USA Today, “Florida raids target sellers of pain pills,” Donna Leinwand, 2/24/11