|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.