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.