Florida Combats Prescription Drug Abuse With Laws and Enforcement

Florida’s success in combating prescription drug abuse is due to a combination of law enforcement and legislative action, the Orlando Sentinel reports.

Several years ago, the state was known for its proliferation of “pill mills,” where people could easily obtain prescription painkillers. Florida physicians were the most prevalent buyers of oxycodone.

After the state cracked down on pill mills and instituted other changes, the number of prescription drug-related deaths decreased in Florida in 2011. Deaths related to oxycodone decreased more than 17 percent. There are no doctors from Florida on the Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) list of physicians who purchase the most oxycodone, the article notes.

The state’s success in fighting prescription drug abuse is due in part to its prescription drug monitoring program, according to the newspaper. The program, launched in September 2011, now holds more than 56 million records. It is designed to catch people who doctor-shop to obtain multiple prescriptions, as well as physicians who prescribe too many painkillers. By late last year, law enforcement had used the Florida database more than 20,000 times.

The federal government also has taken steps to reduce prescription drug abuse in Florida. Last year, the DEA revoked the licenses to dispense controlled substances for two CVS pharmacies in Florida, after accusing them of dispensing excessive amounts of oxycodone.

Some critics contend an unintended consequence of the painkiller crackdown in Florida is that some legitimate chronic pain patients cannot find the drugs they need to treat their condition. Some law enforcement officers are also concerned that some people addicted to painkillers may turn to heroin, as it becomes more difficult to obtain prescription drugs on the street.

20 Responses to Florida Combats Prescription Drug Abuse With Laws and Enforcement

  1. Libby Stephenson | May 25, 2013 at 10:27 pm

    I understand the problems that drug people cause but for people who really need the medicine. Like my dear friend this law n the government is damn there killing her. I’m not sure how much longer she is going to last without her medicine. The government never thinks about the people that have real diseases and pain who suffer horribly every single day. I would ask them give me one day let me walk you thru her life and then you tell me does she deserve to be turned away from a pharmacy because they don’t have it? Walgreens you know what they say we ordered it but it diet come. Check back next week or another pharmacy! Then they fell you to go back to your original pharmacy. Without this medicine she could actual die. Do you think walgreens and the government want that leaked to the news? US Citizen

    • prettyknives | June 3, 2013 at 9:50 pm

      Libby,
      What condition does your friend have who could die without opiates?

    • Jim Smith | November 5, 2013 at 6:19 pm

      Hi Libby,

      I hear your pain about the challenges you friend must go through monthly just to get her pain medication. Something is very wrong with any law that does not recognize there are real people living with REAL pain and they should NEVER be kept from any treatments necessary to help alleviate this pain, including pain medications.. And this means going to one pharmacy monthly to get these medications..

      Please tell your friend to talk to the pharmacy manager of the pharmacy she would like to buy her medications from and tell them she is going to be there every month about this time and would they please have the kind of medication she MUST have, giving the dose and the quantity. My pharmacy has a book of pain patients who play by the rules and are TRUE pain patients. I never am turned away from my pharmacy.

  2. Stockgirl | June 5, 2013 at 8:57 am

    There is no medical condition that requires opiates for patients to stay alive. There are however a lot of medical conditions that result in chronic pain. Lazy doctors treat chronic pain with opiates, good doctors look at other pain management options.
    Your friend needs to see a better doctor, not opiates.

    • ms66cadillac | June 29, 2013 at 9:06 pm

      Stockgirl,

      I tend not to agree with your outlook on chronic pain and your idea that lazy Dr`s give out pain meds and good ones look at other pain management options. I feel a lot of Doctors don’t want to give out pain meds because they can get themselves in a lot of trouble if they are not following federal rules about writing prescriptions. They have a lot of liability on their end. Which is not a bad thing because there are a lot of dope heads looking for a high. Unfortunately the people that really need the medicine are actually hurt by this issue all too often.
      My doctor issues out opiates and muscle relaxers. He also started me out on other tools as well. PT and other methods were used to treat my back issues. Unfortunately 1.5 years later, no improvement and all PT has been stopped. My option is surgery. No PT will help my situation. Yes I still get massages, and do some stretching. my bilateral sciatica caused by a large central herniation of the disks is not fixable by PT.
      My life would be more miserable if I did not have access to pain meds and a good muscle relaxer. I thank my wonderful caring Dr, who is not cold and doesn’t think every person is bad and looking to get high of these drugs. I get my drugs filled regularly, not begging for early refills, and use my meds as prescribed.
      I am the lucky one, I was referred by my DR, to a pain management DR to do an epidural for me at lower cost and he was just so suprised that my DR gives me Soma. His attitude towards me turned ugly and all the sudden I needed to get urine tests and he told me upfront that he couldn’t fill my scripts. (which I never even asked him too) Luckily, I wasn’t seeing that man for that…and I was seeing my specialist for my meds.
      I feel bad for the people who really need these. Life is hard, when you have 3 kids to raise, have to work a manual job, run a business, come home and try to put a smile on you face when the pain is nearly unbearable. I am grateful for my lovely Dr that understands life and humanity, and can see me and know I`m not a drug abuser and he knows this helps me deal with the pain. I can get up and go for a a walk, I can sit on the couch and watch a movie with my kids, and not be stuck in bed in misery. So please don’t say lazy doctors hand out meds.
      Good Doctors actually look at all the tools he can provide. Meds, PT, alternative meds, massage, etc….Good Doctors don’t look at every person as a dopehead….
      To make a person live in pain is such a sad thing…I know there are tons of people out their addicted to pain meds, I know all too well this situation, as my X was a drug abuser. Yet to pile every human into one box, is just plain wrong. Good Doctors take the time to listen and slow down and treat their patients as individuals. Bad doctors are the ones who put patients in a box and treat them all the same…

    • Cathy Miller | August 14, 2013 at 12:26 am

      You need to not give advice to someone who has experienced what it means to have serious chronic pain. You do not have to have cancer to have cancer type pain. I have been trying to live for the last eight years with some sembelance of a normal life. For 2 years I went through all of the options to handle pain and it came down to opiates providing the only relief. When I take that oxycodone pill I don’t feel high, I feel like, ok, I can stay on my feet long enough to do laundry or cook supper. All pain is not equal. Apparently you have not suffered this type of pain or you wouldn’t have such ignorant words comming out of your mouth.

      • Tina | August 14, 2013 at 11:19 pm

        Yss Cathy I agree with you to bad we can’t give our pain to these people who think it is so easy to live with or that other things will help when you have tried everything else. Sorry I always said I wouldn’t wish this on anyone but I am slowly changing my mind about because of the ignorant people who have no clue what 24/7 pain is.

    • chris | October 31, 2013 at 3:36 pm

      Stockgirl, what is your cronic pain? how many days a month are you comletely unable to go to work? how many days a month do you have to leave work and go home, because even with medication, it is too painful to stay. I work for myself, and I love what I do. How many weekends as you are enjoying yourself out fishing, or riding the bike, or seeing a show, How many of those days do you miss? Do you always drive your own car, as not to screw a friend that wants to stay at a show, when you have a pain attack that the meds will not cover? I have had 4 spinal taps, I did the biofeedback, I did …….. as have many others. Medication only provide a better quality of life for me so I dont miss every day and then kill myself as life is not worth living in horrfible pain. Hold back your comments until you walk in my shoes, as it is frustrating to “US” that do hurt. Peace

    • Jim Smith | November 5, 2013 at 6:35 pm

      Hi Stockgirl,

      I completely disagree with you about “There is no medical condition that requires opiates for patients to stay alive” There are many pain patients that could not live with the pain they have if not for the prescriptions they receive to control this pain, I know, I am one of them. I will attest that if I did not have this pain medication to control my pain, I could not possibly deal with the pain I have, for some of us there are no options other than opiates to control pain. And I for one would much rather have other options that could control pain, all of them failed to control my pain, including two surgeries. My greatest fear is I am always just one prescription away from dealing with a pain I can not deal with.. I at least have a good legal source for my medications, something not all pain patients have and that in of itself is criminal. Everyone should have options to all kinds of pain treatments, including opiate medications.

      • Jim Smith | November 5, 2013 at 7:09 pm

        Hi Susan,

        I actually blame the good State of Florida for all of the “Pill Mills” they allowed
        to crop up mostly in South Florida. You are correct, people came here from other
        states and bought opiates by the thousands, took them back home and then sold
        them retail to others who were only looking to get “high” on them. The simple
        way to eliminate PILL MILLS is to prevent them from selling pain mediations
        in the first place. State of Florida did a POOR job of this.

        I think it is very sad your Mother at age 93 must appear before her doctor monthly
        just to get her prescription of Methadone. There should be something written into
        the Florida law that provides exemptions to 30 day supply to 90 days supply for folks
        over a certain age or those with certain proven medical conditions. The State of Florida
        screwed this all up for those of us living here who are in pain that need access to pain
        medications, they should do something to make it easier for those of us elderly or with
        proven medical conditions. 90 day opiate supplies should be allowed for certain
        pain patients.

        And I believe there is currently the intent to deprive REAL pain patients that live
        in the State of Florida from getting their monthly supply of pain mediations.. So
        many today have to SHOP pharmacies just to find one that has their prescription
        in stock. This is completely wrong, every pharmacy should have a LIST of regular
        pain patients and stock their prescriptions for them every month. My pharmacy says
        the State of Florida is restricting them from buying enough pain medications to
        fill their customers prescriptions, thus the need for this list so at least the regular
        customers get their prescriptions filled monthly and without having to go from pharmacy to pharmacy. After all, pharmacies are businesses and they need to sell things to make a profit and remain in business. Providing good customer service means
        having the products on hand that your customers want to buy, well for pain mediations,
        they are mandatory necessities. Any pharmacy that has to send a customer to
        their competition because they can not fill the prescription, is hurting their own business. And this is thanks to the State of Florida for restricting the amounts of these mediations they can order and keep on hand.

  3. Susan | August 16, 2013 at 2:15 pm

    I don’t understand in reading this article that it says in any way that the intent is to deprive people who genuinely need pain medications. Or that there is anyone who would think that is right. The law has changed. People from places like West Virginia were going to Florida by the thousands to get pain medication, to use it and to sell it. My mother uses methadone and every month she has to present herself in person, to the doctor, even though she is 93, to get the prescription renewed. This has to be done because of the rampant abuse. It’s not that it’s not available, but sending someone back to their original provider is NOT too much to ask. It’s an attempt to control doctor shopping. I think it’s a good thing. When I was in Tennessee and got a pain med for my arthritis when I called for a refill they wouldn’t renew it because I was no longer living in that county. I was kind of mad at first but now I see the reason. At that time I had no idea so many people were addicted to pain meds.

  4. Susan | August 16, 2013 at 2:19 pm

    Apparently many of the addicts and dealers have moved across the line to Georgia now that Florida has cracked down. Seeing the thousands of addicts, many young children, addicted to Oxy, was heartbreaking. They don’t have a chance because their parents take the drugs everyday. Caravans were streaming down to Florida every day to buy drugs and when sold in West Virginia made enough to support their own habits.

  5. Pete | November 8, 2013 at 6:02 pm

    I live in SouthwestFL with my wife and son. My wife had a L4L5 spinal fusion and did not get the relief we thought she would. We recently had another ctscan and her L3/L4 & L5/S1 are compressed. We’ve been to 2 different doctors since about June 2013 because the first doctor set her an appointment to a rehab clinic. Afterwards she had a fall in a store due to unsafe conditions which prompted the CT. We were lucky to find another doctor that would help and now we’re dealing with pharmacies that don’t have her script. I drove for 9hrs yesterday from pharmacy to pharmacy and another 5hrs today. We will be taking my considerable salary to another state due to the issues we deal with monthly just finding her meds. DO NOT MOVE TO FLORIDA!

    • shan | November 14, 2013 at 1:50 pm

      sounds very much like my same condition. we just moved back to fla from 6 years overseas, resumed care with my same original doctors and are filling the exact same med and dosage that i’ve been taking for 8 years. i also see a chiropractor, have spinal epidurals once a year, practice a good diet, everything i’m supposed to make my life manageable. those jack hats commenting that haven’t experienced these issues need to shut it. anyway, let me know where you move to. we could be neighbors. and wish your wife well from us

  6. Charles | November 19, 2013 at 9:51 am

    I have a question, Why don’t everyone who is affect by the Florida crack down on these doctor handing out pain meds like candy, go after those doctor with a law suit. Everyone tends to blame the government for the other’s screw, why. We have freedom to make choices and those doctors choose to screw with people lives for a buck. So again why aren’t people going after those doctors finances? I can understand and can only pray for the improvement of those who are in constant pain; however putting the blame on a group of people trying to save lives is not the answer.

  7. shirl | November 19, 2013 at 11:32 am

    my son had a corpectomy for a broken neck after a truck ran him and some friends over. after being discharged from the hospital he can find no doctor that will write him a precription for pain medicine. i know it is hard for him to do anything, people dont understand just how much we use our neck muscles until they deal with it first hand. i have to watch my son suffer with his pain because of people who have chose in the past to abuse pain medication. for people who need this short term or even long term it is completely unfair.

  8. Priscilla | December 2, 2013 at 4:59 pm

    Just got turned away from yet another pharmacy…they have filled my Rx’s off and on since 1992. I am in severe pain daily (since 1975), and I need medication in order to have any kind of life.

    The little mom and pop drugstore that had been filling my Rx’s since this summer is robbing me blind, charging 900% above retail, AND demanding cash in advance. That is shady behavior. And now every they are telling me that they might not fill my script at the end of this month (3 days before Christmas) because the DEA is pressuring them to refuse me. Apparently the government disapproves ofy zip ode. I am. Or making this up, and there is No Law that determines how many miles away from the drugstore one may or may not reside.

    This is pure big brother government intrusion into my very personal life, indeed I to my very survival. This is a bloated bureaucracy with insufficient checks to power.

    If I can’t get my Rx filled, I will not be able to travel home for Christmas with my family. I will be enduring withdrawal from opiates, and gut wrenching pain. What is fair or good about that? I survived an accident which should have been fatal, and this is my reward? To be tortured (yes, to me it feels like torture, physical AND mental suffering) by my own government.

    Just tell me where I can can my Rx filled? Who can answer this question? I spoke with the assistant director of the Florida Board of Pharmacy for over two hours recently. Very nice, empathetic person. And even she cannot obtain the pain Medicine that her father, who is dying of stage IV lung cancer, requires. If someone as ‘connected’ as that can’t obtain a scheduled drug for a family member with Cancer, what chance do I have?

    The last time I couldn’t get my meds for a ten day period, I executed my will…something I had been putting off. You know where this is headed. I am educated, have a Masters degree, have successfully started and succeeded in business, and now teach part time at a state university. I am the kind of person who always has a ‘plan B’, and who can quickly devise plan C if needed. And I tell you, I just don’t see a lot of options. Move to Portugal where drugs are legal…Really?? Is that my best plan? Given that travel across town is out of he question when I am in pain… Heroin? That scares me to death. But looking at suicide from pain, or ?????

    Sure, I talked to my doctor. He will admit me to he hospital and give me IV medicine in an emergency. But within hours I will be back at square one. The pain is very predictable. I Know how bad it gets without my Medicine.

    I have detoxed and suffered three times this year already when drugstores told me ‘we ordered your medicine, it has not come in yet’. Wow, was I slow to realize that I was being lied to. The medicine was never ordered. I know this for a fact, as a kind pharmacist showed me the actual requisition form for the supplier. Must I go through this miserable, hopeless, farce yet again?

  9. Kim | December 8, 2013 at 11:03 am

    I live in SW florida. My COBRA expired and mail order won’t send my meds anymore because I’m private pay. No local chain pharmacies will fill my meds. I need 5 meds, 2 are narcotics. 1 mom and pop fills them but won’t take any discount cards. My meds are over 800 dollars every month and I have to travel 40 miles to pay that. It’s really a crime that legitimate pain patients are treated like trash. I’m a college educated women, a veteran and law abiding citizen. Why can’t I fill my meds for cheaper and close to home?

  10. Kayla | December 15, 2013 at 5:26 am

    I work in an office with pain management and suboxone doctors on staff and when someone comes in, I can definitely see it in their eyes and actions whether they REALLY need it. About 75% of them do NOT need it and sell it right as they get into their cars, walking without their fake limps, I might add. So when can discharge someone for doctor-shopping and who has been prescribed over 450 OxyContin pills in ONE single month and come up positive for cocaine, you bet your ass we wave as they walk out the door. “I must have been drugged.”, “I didn’t know it was meth.”. I’ve heard every story in the book. It’s the people with the legitimate MRIs I feel sorry for but they should be looking into injections, rather than slowly killing heir livers with narcotics. I guess the “high” must be worth your health and biased opinions. This is why we won’t give you a script without DNA testing that matches your urine sample, sorry! We aren’t police but we have to do our due diligence. The pill poppers need to get over it and pass their drug screens. Not that hard.

  11. Cait M | January 29, 2014 at 6:29 am

    how do you report someone who abuses these pills? It’s a danger to them and the people they give the drugs to – doctor shopping, etc – would like to inform law enforcement of this info. Thanks!

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