Florida Pill Mill Doctor Incarcerated

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Dr. Thomas Rodenberg, a South Florida doctor was sentenced to 18 years incarceration for his part in a pill mill scheme in 2012.

Rodenberg was convicted of racketeering, trafficking oxycodone, conspiracy to traffic oxycodone, delivery of oxycodone, alprazolam, methadone, and hydrocodone. Rodenberg was arrested along with 10 other individuals in the Pompano Beach Medical facility.

“I thank the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Broward Sheriff’s Office for their outstanding collaboration in helping bring this dangerous drug dealer to justice” said Attorney General Pam Bondi. She also stated prescription pill deaths are in decline because of law enforcement collaboration.

Although this was a clear victory for law enforcement, some think making prescription drugs harder to obtain will cause addicts to switch to heroin on the streets.

Florida has successfully closed many pill mills in the state, but the unfortunate consequence is drug dealers selling more black tar or Colombian brown heroin. Senior vice president of the drug treatment nonprofit WestCare Foundation said, “the new drug of choice is heroin because the market changed.”

Here at our Florida based drug treatment center, we have successfully treated many patients suffering from prescription drug addiction. Our knowledgeable staff will guide and educate you into a new life, free from addiction.

Deadly Prescription Drug Interactions

We all know that mixing drugs and alcohol together and certain combinations of prescription drugs can be deadly. Now more new studies and cases reveal that unsuspected combinations can turn serious and even deadly. 

Tragic stories of accidental deaths caused by combinations of prescription drugs plague the media – from Heath Ledger to Anna Nicole Smith. And the risks associated with combining alcohol and prescription drugs are also well known and resulted in the tragic deaths of Jimi Hendrix and Amy Winehouse. Researchers are now finding more things that when combined with prescpriton medications can turn deadly.

A story last week broke about a man, Denis Duthie who went blind from mixing alcohol and his diabetes medication. After he drank Red Square Russian Vodka at his parent’s anniversary party everything turned black and he fell completely blind. Doctors thought he had gotten formaldehyde poisoning but it turned out his condition was from the combination of vodka and his diabetes medication.

In other incidents, people have ended up in the emergency room from combining grapefruit juice with their medications. Recently, researchers found that the highly addictive painkillers oxycodone, hydrocodone and the like also cause harmful reactions with grapefruit juice. In fact, there are at least 85 drugs (including oxycodone, Zocor, Lipitor and Nifediac) that can cause reactions with grapefruit juice. According to the Canadian Medical Association Journal, “Many of the drugs that interact with grapefruit are highly prescribed and are essential for the treatment of important or common medical conditions” and few patients know they are contraindicated with grapefruit juice.

The interactions are dangerous because the citrus in grapefruits contain furanocoumarins, which change the way the drugs are absorbed into the gastrointestinal track. The poor absorption flushes more of the drug into the bloodstream, which can result in accidental overdose, kidney damage, respiratory failure, GI tract bleeding, bone marrow suppression and even death. All of these reactions can occur even if the juice was ingested hours before the medication and vice versa. “Taking one tablet with a glass of grapefruit juice is like taking 20 tablets with a glass of water,” asserts David Bailey one of the researchers on the study.

It is always recommended that people check the interactions labels on their medications to protect themselves. However, once someone has crossed the line into addiction, few known interactions have the power to deter their substance abuse or deadly combinations of medications. If you or a loved one is at risk of accidental overdose or concerned about your use of alcohol and prescription medications, Synergy Group Services had effective drug and alcohol treatment programs that can help.

Prescription Drug Deaths Down in Florida

Surveillance footage of customers waiting in chairs outside a “pill mill”  shot by the Palm Beach Sheriff’s Office

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) reported last week that oxycodone related deaths were down 17.7% last year compared to the previous year. Florida is known for a higher rate of overdoses from prescription pain medications compared to other states because it’s previously lenient laws on pain clinics otherwise known as “pill mills” throughout Florida.

Prescription pill abuse in Florida has soared in the last decade, with addicts going as far as buying, selling and trading MRIs which are then used to easily obtain medication at pain clinics throughout the state. People from all over the US, especially from inland states like Kentucky and Arkansas would flood to Florida’s pain clinics in order to bring home copious amounts of pain medication. Pain clinicians were known for giving out a larger than normal amount of pills that would sell for upwards of $30 each.

Recent crackdowns on pain clinics and doctors throughout Florida may account for the decrease in the number of oxycodone related deaths. General prescription related deaths were also down with a 6.3 percent decrease, from 2,710 in 2010 to 2,539 in 2011, according to data obtained from examiner’s offices throughout the state. FDLE Commissioner Gerald Bailey stated, “The decrease in prescription drug deaths represents the dedication of law enforcement and shows we are moving in the right direction,” but asserted, “the numbers are promising, but we have much work ahead.”

And such work will require a combined effort between law enforcement, cracking down on “pill mills” and making addiction treatment in Florida accessible to those who suffer from prescription pill addiction. Since May 2011, special teams assembled by Governor Rick Scott have made 3,390 prescription drug related arrests. Of those arrested were 61 doctors and that have closed down 254 clinics and seized 785,295 pharmaceutical pills.

“Within two years of establishing our prescription drug abuse efforts, Florida has seen a decrease in prescription drug deaths for the first time in nearly a decade,” Attorney General Pam Bondi said. Limiting the availability of prescription drugs combined with reputable Florida drug treatment programs for prescription pill addicts will hopefully continue this decline in prescription related deaths.

If prescription pill addiction has impacted your life, Synergy Group Services has affordable drug treatment programs in Florida that can help you recover.

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