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As a new Florida law banning “pill mills” takes effect, the number of applications filed with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) for new pharmacies in the state has jumped, according to the Orlando Sentinel. The newspaper reports half of the nation’s new pharmacy applications originated in Florida in the first half of 2011.

In June, 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 authorizes the creation of a prescription-drug monitoring database to reduce doctor-shopping by people looking to collect multiple painkiller prescriptions. The legislation also imposes new penalties for physicians who overprescribe medication and imposes stricter rules for operating pharmacies.

Federal authorities estimate that 85 percent of oxycodone is sold in Florida. Many of the sales are to people who come from out of state and then resell the pills illegally.

Danny Banks of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement’s Orlando region told the newspaper he isn’t surprised by the rise in new pharmacy applications in the wake of the new law. “When you have a demand for a product, you will always find someone who will continue to find a way to supply that product,” he said.

DEA investigators reviewing new pharmacy applications look at prospective owners’ ties to other businesses, and whether they have been run legitimately, the article notes.

Michael Jackson, Executive Vice President and CEO of the Florida Pharmacy Association, said that now that doctors and clinic owners can’t sell certain painkillers from their offices, some may want to open pharmacies to continue selling the drugs.

The New York Times reports Florida’s new legislation is having a positive effect, allowing officials to close pill mills and to interrupt the supply of drugs moving north to other states. Treatment centers in the state are also reporting an increase in people seeking help for addiction.

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