The excessive illegal prescription of opioid drugs is an issue that Florida has faced for several years. People from all over the country travelled to Florida to obtain drug prescriptions from pill mills, creating a nationwide public health issue. Between 1999 and 2012 the number of opioid drug-poisoning deaths nearly quadrupled.
Aggressive law enforcement action to put a halt to this type of fraud began in 2010 when Purdue Pharma, the primary producer of oxycodone, reformulated the drug to make it more difficult to abuse. At the beginning of 2011, police began aggressively charging these cases. On July 1, 2011, a new law went into effect, forcing pill mills to register with the state and prohibited doctors from distributing opioid painkillers from their offices. That same year Florida implemented the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program in which healthcare professionals were given a better look at patients’ prescription drug histories. In the first year following enactment, the number of oxycodone tablets being sold by doctors fell from 46 million in 2010 to 1.2 million in 2011.
The crackdown on fraudulent drug prescriptions led to a statewide pill mill bust earlier this year. Dr. Lynn Averill and seven operators of Real Care Medical Group were charged with racketeering, conspiracy, and manslaughter after allegedly prescribing medically-unnecessary drugs that led to eight overdose deaths.
This past week JAMA Internal Medicine published its findings, concluding that there has been a “modest decreases” in the use of opioid drug prescriptions. In the study, Lainie Rutkow, an associate professor at the John Hopkins School of Public Health, stated “[A] declining trend that can be attributed to these laws certainly points the way toward future research to see what happened then in years two, three and four.”
If you or someone you know is facing drug charges, contact Robert Malove at (954) 861-0384 for a confidential consultation.