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Georgia Governor Nathan Deal has signed a law that requires pain clinics to be licensed by the state medical board, and new clinics to be owned by physicians. The measure is designed to reduce prescription drug abuse, according to The Wall Street Journal.

The law, which goes into effect July 1, states pain clinics must register every two years or face possible felony indictments. Georgia’s medical board can deny licensing to a pain clinic for reasons including the owner’s prior criminal conviction related to controlled substances, the article notes.

The number of pain clinics jumped in Georgia from 10 in 2010, to 140 the following year, after Florida cracked down on its own “pill mills.” Georgia is the ninth state to require that pain clinics be doctor-owned. Alabama and Indiana are considering similar measures.

Georgia’s prescription-drug monitoring program, aimed at catching people who obtain pain prescriptions from multiple physicians (known as “doctor shopping”), will launch in mid-June. Funding for the program is not guaranteed past this fall, the newspaper states.

In March, a report issued by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement found the number of deaths due to oxycodone decreased by 29 percent in the state in the first six months of 2012, compared with the second half of the previous year. The report provides evidence Florida is successfully fighting the prescription drug abuse epidemic, officials said.

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