Broward County, Florida, is considering moratoriums on “pill mills,” which call themselves pain medication clinics but are criticized by locals as serving the sole purpose of prescribing pain medication to anyone who claims they need it.
They are following the lead of Palm Beach, Dania Beach, and other towns that have imposed moratoriums. The pill mills rarely track prescriptions, enabling drug addicts to go to multiple clinics within a short period of time to fill multiple prescriptions for powerful opiate pain killers. Opiate pain killers are highly addictive and one of the leading causes of emergency room visits due to a rising tide of abuse of these prescription drugs. Drugs include OxyContin, oxycodone, and Vicodin, as well as anxiolytics such as Valium and Xanax. They may also be prescribing replacement drugs such as Suboxone without appropriate follow up and therapy.
Critics contend that these pain clinics serve as fronts for physicians willing to dispense excessive amounts of prescription drugs with little or no pain assessment. They have been blamed for supplying addicts and fueling a narcotics trade that is spreading pills throughout the Southeast.
A major concern is that these pill mills are attracting drug traffickers and addicts to these tourist towns. Another concern is the rising number of fatalities due to opiate abuse. Michael Jackson’s death focused attention on prescription-drug abuse fueled by a doctor’s willingness to prescribe multiple drugs in increasing dosages. Florida law enforcement and medical officials blame the pain clinics for increases in overdose deaths, such as the nearly 1,000 deaths in 2009 that involved Oxycodone – 33 per cent more than the previous year. The Florida Medical Examiners Commission reports that prescription drugs accounted for 75 percent of the drugs found in fatalities in 2009, and overdoses from painkillers and antianxiety drugs cause more deaths than cocaine.