Last time we talked about the issue of the increasing illicit use of pain killers among Americans. We also spoke about the development of pill mills used in the illegal trade of prescription pill narcotics. Florida has been identified as the state with the most drug crimes identified with the illegal prescription of pain killers. In fact, people from other states travel to Florida for illicit prescriptions. In this post we will look at the approach law enforcement officials have taken to address the issue.
As an example of the extreme amount of prescription pain killers that are sold in Florida, doctors there purchased 41.2 million pills in the first six months of 2010 for sale in comparison to the 4.8 million pills purchased by doctors in the other 49 states. Likewise the number of pain management clinics erupted in Florida. In 2006 there were six clinics in Broward County, home to Fort Lauderdale, and by mid-2009 there were 140 clinics in Broward County.
According to a detective with the Broward County Sheriff’s Office, many of the new clinics were legitimate, but it was fairly easily to tell which clinics were not as professional looking. Often, illegitimate clinics have armed guards on the premises and are also marked by the long line of patients outside the clinics. Since many illegitimate clinics advertise out of state, often over Craigslist, car with out of state plates are normally parked nearby. Some patients even slept in their cars as they waited for a prescription.
Instead of busting individual patients, law enforcement partnered with the Drug Enforcement Agency and the Florida Board of Medicine to identify bad doctors and close illegitimate clinics. Pain clinics now must be owned by doctors and have to register with the state. Because of the registration officials with the Health Department can monitor the doctor’s records. Additionally, doctors who operate pain management clinics in Florida have to complete pain management training by 2012.
Source: USA Today, “Florida raids target sellers of pain pills,” Donna Leinwand, 2/24/11