Some Florida doctors have recently filed a lawsuit to block new state laws that would crack down on pain clinics. These doctors say the new laws are unconstitutional, but others say the doctors are just afraid of losing sales.
The Pill Mill Problem
Florida has finally begun taking action against its many pain clinics, which are known for prescribing medications to anyone that walks in the door. In a country with a rising prescription drug problem, 98 of the top 100 doctors who dispense oxycodone right out of their offices practice in Florida. Some of these doctors see 80 patients a day, and patients are commonly found lined up outside of some of the most popular clinics. While pain management is important for doctors to provide for their patients, many prescribe unnecessary drugs to known addicts, simply as a way to make a profit. Doctors at these “pill mills” can become very wealthy through these dishonest practices. But with abuse of prescription drugs can come overdose and death, and an estimated 7 Floridians die a day because of prescription drugs. In fact, from 2005 to 2009, Florida had 5,887 deaths from prescription drugs. That’s equal to three times the number of deaths from heroin, cocaine, and other illegal drugs combined.
Thankfully, Florida has begun to make laws that would shut down pill mills. Included in the newest laws is one that bans clinics from selling more than a 3 day supply of pills to those paying cash or credit. Pain clinics will be required to register, according to the laws, and doctors must get training in pain management. Doctors will also need to examine patients before prescribing drugs, which many find hard to believe was not a requirement before.
There has been much disagreement and blaming going on over the Florida painkiller dilemma. State officials in Florida blame their slow response on unawareness of the issue, because no one reported it to them. The state health department, law enforcement, and the community all need to be working together in this to effectively shut down these obvious violators.
Even with laws already passed and in the works, shutting down pill mill doctors is proving to be difficult. Slow processes can cause months or years of waiting before disciplinary action is taken place. Some doctors get a slap on the wrist and then are allowed back in practice. Lack of communication between the health department and others involved allows many convicted doctors to still keep their license, and others that should be convicted can pick up and close shop before they can be investigated and found out.
When pain clinic doctors sue over a bill that would regulate the immense prescription painkiller market, it becomes mighty suspicious. Whatever their reasons, their underlying concern is that they don’t want to lose their revenue. When we are talking about the touchy subject of prescription painkillers and the lives of patients, we need to be looking out first of all for the patient and the public’s best interest.