Will Prescription Pain Clinics Ever Be Regulated?
Are you sick of hearing about pain clinic busts in Florida yet? New state regulations have shut down many of the clinics that made Florida the home of the “Oxy Express,” but they have just moved north. The Wall Street Journal recently published an article about pain clinics setting up shop in Georgia: “The rapid cross-border shift reflects how quickly operators can migrate when the business environment sours—and why it is difficult to fight the prescription-drug epidemic on a national scale.”
In Florida, two brothers were arrested in 2009 for their corrupt pain clinic businesses. NBC News reported that these brothers were charged with “racketeering and drug trafficking for operating what federal officials say was the largest, most sophisticated painkiller trafficking organization in the country.” Neither brother was in the medical field. Non-medical professionals have less to lose than doctors, who are held to state and medical professional laws and rules. But in the Florida case, the brothers pleaded guilty to various charges, including murder related to an overdose death. Several doctors associated with the clinic were convicted, too.
But the pill mill problem is like water: Plug a leak in one area and it will find a way to get through. Regulations being adopted in a few states (Florida, Louisiana and Texas, recently) mean the pain clinics will move elsewhere.
Georgia did not have a tracking system to record the number of prescriptions that were being written by each pain clinic. This system would have provided another way to monitor shady pain clinics. Now Georgia lawmakers are moving forward with legislation to limit the pain clinics. State Attorney General Sam Olens told the Journal that, “once pills mills leave Georgia, people seeking them will simply go north looking for states with looser regulations.” Isn’t this the truth about how we operate as a society? Keep moving forward to get what you want. In the case of pain clinics, a path of destructive prescription drug addiction and abuse is left behind.
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