Drug dealers are finding ways to circumvent new laws aimed at closing down “pill mills,” USA Today reports.
Hundreds of people in Florida have tried to open pharmacies after the state banned doctors from dispensing opioids directly from their clinics, forcing patients to go to pharmacies to fill their prescriptions. Others have started operating in Georgia, according to law enforcement officials.
“Traffickers adapt to situations,” Mark Trouville, special agent in charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) field offices in Florida, told the newspaper. “We knew once we put pressure on the pill mills, the wrong people would start opening pharmacies.”
In June 2011, Florida Governor Rick Scott signed into law a bill designed to cut down on prescription drug abuse by controlling “pill mills” in the state. The law authorized the creation of a prescription-drug monitoring database to reduce doctor-shopping by people looking to collect multiple painkiller prescriptions. The legislation also imposed new penalties for physicians who overprescribe medication and imposes stricter rules for operating pharmacies.
Since then, the number of Florida doctors who are among the nation’s top 100 oxycodone-buying physicians has dropped to 13 from 90 in 2010, according to DEA Special Agent David Melenkevitz.
The number of applications for non-chain pharmacies in Florida rose about 80 percent in 2011, to 381, from the previous year. Many applicants who are turned down in Florida try opening a pharmacy in Georgia, according to Rick Allen, Director of the Georgia Drugs and Narcotics Agency. About 95 percent of new non-chain drugstore applications have a connection to Florida, he said. Barbara Heath of the DEA’s Atlanta field division said she expects North Carolina and Tennessee to be the next states to see “problem pharmacies.”
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