BEACON TRANSCRIPT – Apparently, Florida’s shutdown of “pill mills” is working, which is a huge success in a time where addiction to prescription opioids is on the rise. Experts are still looking for solutions, with numerous suggestions on the table. One of them is to find and shut down such place.
Loosely explained, “pill mills” are clinics where physicians and doctors often prescribe potentially addictive painkillers for basically anything. They have been named as one of the problems the U.S. is currently facing. Both addiction and overdoses on prescription drugs are on the rise.
According to the National Center for Health Statistics, the numbers are on a dramatic upsurge. For painkillers, they flatted between 2009 to 2013, but saw to a spike of 16% in 2014 at almost 19,000 deaths due to prescribed opioids. Heroin-related deaths have also seen a huge increase, from almost 6,000 in 2012 to over 10,500 in 2014.
The comparison was drawn because it is believed that heroin is the solution for addicts who cannot gain access to prescription drugs. It does seem, however, that Florida’s strategy has worked in at least one way. They compared the Sunshine State’s situation to North Carolina, both of which had seen similar numbers of overdose-related deaths.
State officials in Florida have passed new laws in 2010 and 2011 for the purpose of shutting down “pill mills”. They established greater oversight, harsher restrictions, and worse punishments for doctors and clinic owners. According to Dr. Alene Kennedy-Hendricks, from Johns Hopkins University, Florida prohibited on-site dispensing of narcotics and advertising, along with enhanced criminal penalties.
It drove doctors and physicians to thinking twice about even having those prescription drugs on hand. Reportedly, many of them refused to order them anymore. Both state officials and the DEA were put to work in order to arrest doctors and their staff for such prescriptions. For a while, it appeared that their restrictive program worked.
In 2010, Florida had new laws regarding the regulation of prescription drugs, while North Carolina did not. In consequence, in lowered the number of both opioid-related and heroin related deaths. In 2011, the Sunshine State saw only an 8% increase of death rates due to drugs, while North Carolina saw an 18% rise.
Further down the line, in 2012, Florida saw a 6% increase, while North Carolina experienced a 10% increase. By the end of the year, the former had a leveling off for those numbers. According to Dr. Kennedy-Hendricks, it’s possible that Florida’s ability to crack the whip on “pill mills” might’ve saved over 1,000 lives from drug overdoses.
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